News: Attention to detail means everything for EOD
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – There are many dangers on today’s battlefield, and improvised explosive devices encountered on missions have statistically proven to be one of the most hazardous. U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Brian Seager of the Fort Knox, Ky. – based 703rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, attached to Task Force Duke, has been an EOD technician for nine years. Defusing IEDs isn’t for the faint of heart, he said, but Seager notes that like many things in life, “it’s all about the details.”
Seager, a native of Aliquippa, Pa., explained that once EOD arrives on scene there are numerous procedures to follow, all critical to the mission’s ultimate success. Establishing security and verifying the location and type of the device through a robot, which can disarm the IED, are just a few. If the robot is unable to successfully disarm the device, which has been the case in many instances, then Seager or one of his team members will attempt to disarm the device manually.
What’s the most dangerous part of any mission?
“The unknown,” Seager responded, especially “if there’s a secondary device or if there is a complex attack waiting for you while you’re disarming the device.”
The array of variables that can be present on any mission only adds to the sense of unknown. Insurgents close enough to use cell phones as a triggering device, command wires sticking out of the ground, pressure plates that could possibly be stepped on, and other devices that may detonate when approaching are just a few of those many unknown hazards to consider.
EOD techs are on-call at all hours, and at times missions can last for days without end. Seager said the most frustrating part of being a tech is returning from a long mission, exhausted and hungry, and receiving another call to go out before getting a chance to sit down to eat.
“Consecutive missions can be stressful; something that’s supposed to be simple but ends up being 20 hours,” he said.
With the enemy using every trick in the book to cause harm, EOD is always alert to changing dynamics, said Seager. New IEDs and technologies are frequently encountered, requiring the techs to learn and constantly improve their skills.
“It’s nothing at all like “Hurt Locker” (movie). There’s a lot of constant training and improvement since things are always changing on the battlefield,” he said.