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US soldiers, sailors team up to combat IEDs in northern Afghanistan

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Navy explosive ordnance disposal technicians from EOD Group Two and Army soldiers from the 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team continue to join forces in fighting improvised explosive devices throughout Faryab province, northern Afghanistan, May 12.

Navy EOD technicians are integrated into coalition forces through mission tasking and combined joint operations in a multinational environment not only with the 16 contributing nations in International Security Assistance Force Regional Command North but also with Afghan national security forces.

“We are a direct support asset,” said Navy Chief Petty Officer Jeffrey Bunce, explosive ordnance disposalman team leader, Platoon 6-5-1, EOD Mobile Unit Six. “It’s important for Navy EOD to be involved with the forces throughout the area of operation and we’re exposed to every aspect of the mission.”

For the soldiers of A Battery, 1st Battalion, 84th Field Artillery Regiment, 170th IBCT, they consider Navy EOD to be part of the team.

“They’re eager to help and are always part of our operations,” said Army Capt. James Thornton, commander, A Battery, 1-84 Field Artillery. “Operational cooperation is key and we get along great with the technicians.”

From meeting operational requirements to providing training to Army and Afghan forces, Navy EOD maintains operational material readiness, able to support multiple forces at any given time.

“This is nothing like what I expected it to be,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Heber, explosive ordnance disposalman team member, Platoon 6-5-1, EOD Mobile Unit Six, when asked about his first deployment. “It’s a great opportunity and a very dynamic, broad spectrum mission. It’s rewarding to see we’re able to instill confidence in the ANSF and that people appreciate the work we do.”

Bunce and his team’s responsibility spans over three forward operating bases and combat outposts throughout Provincial Reconstruction Team Maimanah’s area of operation in northwestern Afghanistan.

“We’re flexible, adapt and overcome any challenge,” added Bunce. “All the EOD technicians are solid operators and professionally carry themselves to the highest standards of the Navy. Aside from combating explosive devices that may cause harm to our troops, our mission is to get everyone home safely.”

“It goes beyond partnership- it’s a friendship and we help each other out,” added Thornton.

Article by Ensign Peter Lee, ISAF Regional Command North