By Commander, Task Force 68 Public Affairs
Sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) Eight, subordinate command of Commander, Task Force (CTF) 68, facilitated Department of Defense (DoD) Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) EOD Level 2 training to the Croatian Navy’s underwater EOD team at Lora Naval Base in Split, Croatia, Dec. 1-21, 2020.
The training was the second of an extensive three-part series ranging from essential ordnance identification to undertaking multiple ordnance threats at once.
“Training evolutions like these between partnered countries help build trust,” said Lt. Jack Smith, commander, EOD Platoon 3-1. “The HMA training is a DoD and Sixth Fleet priority, where we will be establishing a future standard of excellence for all of Europe.”
The DoD HMA program aids more than 20 partner nations plagued by landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). Their efforts include mitigation of hazardous effects of unexploded ordnance (UXO), including incidents of death, serious injury, and obstructed economic development, ultimately returning the land to the people.
“The Adriatic Sea has many dumping zones of ordnance from WWI and WWII, both contact mines and ammunition from airplanes dropped into the sea," said Croatian Navy Capt. Ivan Milinkovic, commander, Croatian Mine Clear Diving Platoon. "We have received some great knowledge and donated equipment from the U.S. government, and we are very thankful for their support."
Smith added, “There are a lot of landmines on the Bosnian border, so helping them regain safe land back absolutely increases their economic prosperity.”
Throughout the course, Sailors from Task Group (TG) 68.1 provided both classroom and hands-on practical exercises for the Croatian technicians. For some of the team, it was their first time experiencing training in English.
“Only four of us have finished EOD training in the United States,” said Milinkovic. “Being able to have this training here in Croatia, with the U.S. team, gives us more of the experience we need. It also helps us practice our English and get familiar with ordnance in two languages.”
Upon completing the training, Croatian forces will be better equipped to provide combat support in today’s complex operational environment. U.S. Naval Expeditionary forces ultimately enhance interoperability with partnered forces, enabling improved maneuvering both at sea and ashore.
"Our ultimate goal is for them to obtain the Level 3+ certification, which means they have mastered the specialized training to respond to be able to tackle underwater ordnance,” said Smith.
EODMU Eight is a TG under Navy Expeditionary Combat Force Europe-Africa/Task Force 68 (NECFEURAF/TF 68). NECFEURAF/TF 68 executes operational command and control of assigned and allocated Naval Expeditionary Forces within the EUCOM and AFRICOM AORs to include explosive ordnance disposal, diving and salvage, expeditionary engineering, Phase 0 Mine Countermeasures, expeditionary logistics, and expeditionary security operations in support of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, U.S. Sixth Fleet, and TF 6 in order to protect U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.