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703rd EOD disposes of ordnance in controlled detonation

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An explosion rent the air and shook the ground a few miles from Forward Operating Base Clark, Afghanistan, March 27. There wasn’t cause for alarm, however, because the explosion was a controlled detonation performed by the 703rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company.

The four-man team from the 703rd EOD, with support from a civilian and a personal security detail from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, disposed of approximately 200 pieces of ordnance.

The items destroyed consisted of equipment from nearby Combat Outpost Spera, which closed recently, and captured enemy munitions and ammo turned in the Afghan National Army, said U.S. Army 1st Lt. David Robinson, a platoon leader for the 703rd EOD Co. and native of Hampton, Va.

Some of the ordnance was covered in rust and damage from being out in the elements too long, and some was simply too old to use safely, said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Brian Seager, a platoon sergeant with the 703rd EOD and a native of Aliquippa, Penn.

It was important for the ordnance to be disposed of properly to eliminate the explosive hazard and avoid the risk of it falling into insurgent hands, Seager said.

In addition to getting rid of bad ammunition, the mission provided good training in demolition for the team, said Robinson.

The EOD team took two weeks to plan the mission and coordinate security while they prepared the munitions to be detonated, said Seager.

One of the biggest concerns and challenges for the mission was safety.

Prior to going to the site of detonation, the team inspected the old munitions to ensure they could be moved safely. Additionally, the team separated the explosives from their initiators, to prevent an accidental explosion, said Seager.

“While here, everybody needs to be doing the right thing and wearing protective gear,” Seager said.

Safety precautions also included properly identifying the explosives, so the team knew exactly what they were getting rid of. They took into account their surroundings to ensure they conducted the demolition a safe distance from civilian villages and major installations, said Robinson.

“There are rules we abide by at all times,” Robinson said. “Everyone is a safety officer no matter what the rank is. If I’m doing something unsafe and there is a private standing by, he has the right to tell me I’m being unsafe.”

Article by Spc. Tobey White, Combined Joint Task Force 101