ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – The U.S. Army celebrates the 80th anniversary of the explosive ordnance disposal profession this year.
The U.S. Army’s first enlisted EOD technicians began training at the Bomb Disposal School on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland in April 1942.
Based in Northeast Maryland’s Science, Security, and Technology Corridor, Aberdeen Proving Ground is the U.S. Army’s oldest active proving ground and the former headquarters of the Ordnance Corps, which moved to Fort Lee , Virginia, in 2008.
Today, Aberdeen Proving Ground is the headquarters of the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the US Department of Defense’s premier all-hazards formation.
20th CBRNE Command houses 75% of the active duty Army EOD Technicians and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) specialists, as well as the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, Analysis and Sanitation Activity CBRNE, five mass destruction coordination weapons teams and three nuclear deactivation teams.
Col. Christopher P. Bartos, the operations officer for 20th CBRNE Command, is the senior EOD officer at headquarters.
Bartos grew up in the military and graduated from high school at Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. He then graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, and became an infantry officer in the United States Army. After a few years, he decided to become an EOD officer.
“I wanted to explore a different path that would challenge me in a more technical way,” Bartos said. “I was fascinated by the complexity and technology of various types of weapons and other dangers designed for war and conflict. As a young officer, I thought the EOD was the perfect solution to support combat operations and protect our soldiers. »
Today, Bartos oversees operations for the command, which has 3,800 soldiers and civilians deployed from 19 bases in 16 states to confront the world’s most dangerous dangers.
Bartos said EOD units from the 20th CBRNE Command routinely deploy to U.S. Central Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of operations while supporting U.S. Indo-Pacific Command exercises and peacekeeping support missions. defense to civil authorities for the US Northern Command.
EOD Technicians also respond when unexploded military ordnance is discovered, both on and off post. In 2021, 20th CBRNE Command EOD units participated in 1,415 explosive ordinance mitigation missions on military installations and 276 off-base missions.
In 2021, EOD Technicians also conducted 443 Highly Important Person Protection Support Activity missions to ensure the protection of the President, First Lady, Vice President and foreign Heads of State.
EOD soldiers also support combatant command’s theater security engagement training missions, including humanitarian mine clearance missions.
Over the past eight decades, Army EOD Technicians have had a tremendous impact on the safety and security of the U.S. military and the nation it defends, defeating countless explosive threats on the fields of battle around the world and supporting civil authorities across the country.
Colonel Gregory J. Hirschey, commander of the 52nd Ordnance Group (EOD) based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, said the army had recognized the need to build a specialized force based on the British bomb disposal squadrons that made the time-delayed safety and anti-suppression fuses found on bombs dropped on Europe and Britain at the start of World War II.
“As technology advanced rapidly and munitions became more complex, the need for EOD technicians increased,” Hirschey said. “During the 1950s, the military developed nuclear capabilities and fusion systems that required highly trained technicians capable of responding to any type of incident or accident to prevent partial or total detonations.”
“During the Korean conflict, EOD was called upon to make ordnance safe in contested areas as Communist and Coalition forces advanced and occupied trench lines and defenses throughout the peninsula,” Hirschey said.
US Army EOD technicians then defeated booby traps and improvised devices developed by communist-backed North Vietnamese forces during the Vietnam War.
A native of East Helena, Montana, Hirschey is one of two active duty U.S. Army EOD Group Commanders and commands all EOD soldiers stationed east of the Mississippi River.
“In the early days of the EOD program, a technician’s tool kit was as simple as a pipe wrench, brass hammer, knife and a set of demolition crimpers,” Hirschey said. “The program has expanded over the years to include modern robotic systems, armored vehicles, bomb suits and a range of safe rendering procedural tools that can be used to deal with any imaginable scenario.”
“The most important tool, however, remains the intellect, adaptability and ingenuity of the EOD team leader,” Hirschey said.
Col. Michael G. Schoonover is the commanding officer of the 71st Ordnance Group (EOD), the Fort Carson, Colorado-based group that commands all EOD soldiers west of the Mississippi River.
Schoonover said EOD Technicians enable combat units to close in and destroy the enemy on battlefields covered in explosives.
“The EOD army on the battlefield has historically aided units supported with explosive ordnance that impedes the forward movement of forces so that maneuver units can meet and defeat enemy forces,” said Schoonover, who began his Army career in 1990 as an enlisted infantry. Soldier and was commissioned into the ROTC program at Lock Haven University, Pennsylvania in 1998.
Schoonover pointed to the clearance missions that Army EOD units conducted on all the bridges crossing the Euphrates and Tigris in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
“Combat forces weren’t forced to create wet passages and saved valuable time,” Schoonover said, adding that units also cleared jammed shells on the multitude of combat vehicles and airframes and cleared planes shot down during the invasion.
The EOD soldiers then faced one of the greatest threats to the troops: the improvised explosive device.
For two decades, Army EOD Technicians from the 20th CBRNE Command have worked with U.S. Navy EOD Technicians to defeat hundreds of thousands of IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The Army EOD managed the largest EOD response to IEDs in the history of the Department of Defense, including the creation of Task Force Troy and Paladin as the first response oversight structure for IED response , technical intelligence and operations,” Schoonover said. “All of this was made possible by strong EOD company, battalion and group commanders and structures, which enabled EOD to exceed Army expectations for expeditionary security and explosive ordnance response.”
According to Schoonover, EOD techs continue to adapt to defeat ever-changing threats, adding that EOD operations have changed slightly depending on how the adversary has fought.
“Our enemies are continually evolving in how they fight American forces and that’s evolving our army EOD techs with enemy tactics, so we’re protecting the force,” Schoonover said.
“Currently, not only are we maintaining the skills acquired over the past 80 years, but we are also working on how to protect the force against modern enemy weapon systems, such as unmanned aerial systems and hypersonic weapons,” Schoonover said.
The 71st EOD Group Commander said the Joint Naval EOD School prepares EOD Technicians for large-scale combat operations and Army EOD Technicians are prepared for all levels of operations in support of conventional and special forces units.
By remaining ready to face and overcome everything from hand grenades to nuclear weapons, EOD Technicians have saved lives and enabled operations in every war since World War II. Today, EOD Technicians return to their roots to prepare for large-scale combat operations against close competitors.
“EOD units will also be aligned in the battlespace to enable victory for maneuver elements within the division and corps echelons – just as EOD operations in World War II helped sort explosive ordnance so that combat units can stay focused on destroying the enemy,” Schoonover said. “As always, Army EOD remains ready to answer the call.”
|Date posted:||03.02.2022 13:36|
|Location:||ABERDEEN, MD, USA PROVING GROUND|
|Hometown:||EAST HELENA, Montana, USA|
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