By Sgt. Armando Monroig
5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
BAQOUBA, Iraq -- This enemy is real and is one that Soldiers say must be defeated. This enemy has no face. You don't know when it will strike. You don't know how big or small it may be. But it is there.
It is responsible for deadly attacks on coalition forces and civilians alike. It doesn't discriminate. The threat is the number-one weapon of choice by terrorists in Iraq – the improvised explosive device, or roadside bomb.
It's a threat that members of the 725th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, from Fort Drum, N.Y., fight every day in Diyala province in support of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, from Fort Hood, Texas.
"Every IED we defeat, every call we go to that disposes of an explosive hazard, can save the life of coalition forces members and civilians," said Capt. Ryan Nobis, 725th EOD company commander.
That motivation is what drives Nobis and his Soldiers. Knowing that what they do helps keep the troops of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division safer makes the job worthwhile.
"We do our job and try to take care of (the explosive ordnance) as fast and safely as possible every time to allow everyone else to go back to doing what they need to do," said Pfc. David Cole, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 725th EOD Co.
Soldiers from units who work with the techs say EOD plays a big role in Diyala.
"The IED threat is what kills the most troops in Iraq, so, having a group of Soldiers focus on defeating that threat is a key part of our success," said Staff Sgt. Nathan Francis, a squad leader with the 18th Engineer Company, from Fort Lewis, Wash.
"With them specifically trained in defeating IEDs, it allows our missions to be accomplished faster, which shortens our time on target," he added.
Nobis said they have defeated more than 600 IEDs in the six months his unit has been in Diyala.
The 725th EOD Co. participates in planned operations with 3rd BCT, 1st Cav. Div., and has teams on call to respond to any encounters that maneuver elements may have with IEDs. He said being on a response team is much like firefighters waiting to put out a fire.
Nobis said there is no average day for an EOD technician. Response teams may get anywhere from one call to 10 calls on any given day.
These days, EOD units primarily use remote-controlled robots to eliminate IED threats. This helps keep Soldiers a safe distance from any suspected IEDs.
No matter how it's done, by robot or by Soldier, slaying the IED dragon is what gets Soldiers like Cole pumped up.
"Where else do you get the opportunity to work with anything that goes boom?"
Cole said he is proud to be an EOD tech and to help make sure Soldiers come back to base safe.
"It's nice to know we're needed," he said.
This work, Bomb killers respond day and night in Diyala, by SGT Armando Monroig, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.