News: Continuing Afghan EOD training to boost skills
Story by Erica Fouche
CAMP PHOENIX, Afghanistan – On April 30 three Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP) Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) officers received a refresher course on detecting and defeating improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from the 731st Ordnance Company (EOD), 184th Ordnance Battalion, team.
The ANCOP officers, all graduates of the IED-defeat course at the Afghan EOD school in Mazar-I-Sharif, were eager to expand their knowledge of counter –IED best practices and agreed that continuing training such as this one is the best way to ensure they will be fully capable to take the helm of the fight against IEDs in Afghanistan.
“Everything we learned at EOD school helped prepare us to succeed at our missions all over Afghanistan,” said Capt. Shamsullah-Baha, ANCOP EOD team member, soon-to-be team lead. “But training with the U.S. Army EOD team here will only strengthen what he have learned.”
The training begins with a scenario of an ANCOP team on patrol coming across what appears to be an IED and they call in their EOD team for clearance. Creating a real-life situation allows the team to understand the severity of their actions and the decisions they make. Staff Sgt. Mike Shorter, 731st OD Company (EOD) team lead, expressed his all-around satisfaction with how the ANCOP EOD team addressed the scenario and how they conducted their mock-mission.
“Not only did Capt. Shamsullah ask extremely detailed questions, but his teammates provided excellent insight which provided them with a solid visual assessment prior to getting started,” said Shorter. “We don’t just hand over answers, we want to examine their thought process and make sure they come to the right conclusion after conducting the proper steps. When you’re properly trained, C-IED is not a blind fight and that’s what we’re here to help accomplish.”
One aspect the 731st OD Company (EOD) team focused on during the training was the fact that collecting evidence is one of EOD technician’s most important responsibilities in addition to disabling the device.
“It’s important for them to understand the need to handle evidence properly and that if we catch the bomb makers, we prevent them from making future weapons,” stressed Shorter. “We also want to make sure they can pick up visual clues in the area, which will help them determine where their search should be focused.”
After the ANCOP EOD technicians completed the scenario, Shorter and his team walked them back through, discussing why certain steps were or weren’t taken, and provided guidance on different steps that might have proved beneficial.
“The mock-mission was handled very well and there actually weren’t too many things we would’ve done differently,” said Shorter. “It was very reassuring to see where the ANCOP EOD team is at with their capabilities and understanding of the C-IED mission.”
Beginning this month the 731st OD Company (EOD) team will conduct this particular training twice a week to assist in validating ANCOP EOD teams, ultimately helping to build a stronger, more independent Afghan security force.
“Training is one of our main goals here and as long as we have the resources to facilitate it, we’ll continue to host as long as possible,” said Shorter. “It’s a great opportunity for Afghans and U.S. EOD partners to build on our skills together and allow us all to become better EOD technicians.”