A Dynamite Relationship
(July 2, 2011)
Staff Sgt. Stephen Miller, front, Team 1 non-commissioned officer in charge, consults with Kosovo security forces explosive ordnance disposal specialist OR-6 Mustaf Kryeziu, center, on the findings of ordnance in the backyard of a local resident of Tica, Kosovo
on June 7, 2011. The Kosovo security forces and KFOR explosive ordnance disposal teams work in conjunction to identify and properly dispose of found ordnance.
TICA, Kosovo (6/7/2011) - The history of U.S. military explosive
ordnance disposal professionals dates back to the beginning of World
War II. According to an essay written by retired Command Sgt. Maj.
James H. Clifford, titled, “The Origins of U.S. Army Explosive
Ordnance Disposal” the first ordnance disposal teams were taught by
British bomb disposal experts.
The U.S. officers and
enlisted learned how to identify bombs, how to use existing disposal
equipment, and how to excavate bombs. In addition, the U.S. military
adopted British training materials in order to teach thousands of
service members the art of ordnance disarming and disposal. The
first year U.S. Army soldiers were trained in explosive ordnance
disposal tactics was 1947. Since then procedures and techniques have
been honed to a razor sharp edge with experience in every major and
minor conflict, and numerous peacekeeping missions.
peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, as part of NATO's Kosovo Forces, is
no different than a wartime mission when it comes to the
identification and disposal of unexploded or expended ordnance.
However, an additional skill set is added to the regular list of
duties for EOD teams in other theaters of operation. According to
Staff Sgt. Stephen Miller, Team 1 non-commissioned officer in charge
of the 666 Explosive Ordnance Disposal based in Alabama, one of the
additional tenets of the 666 EOD's mission in Kosovo is to mentor
and monitor the Kosovo security forces explosive ordnance disposal
teams. As of May 29, 2011, the final KSF EOD team completed the
required training becoming a fully qualified unit.
mission allows them to be present when all entities respond to calls
placed to the local Kosovo police from a concerned citizen.
Oftentimes the citizens have unearthed or found what appears to be
unexploded ordnance. The Kosovo police are often on scene when the
666 EOD team arrives along with a team from the KSF EOD. Each
element has expertise and experience to offer the others in terms of
understanding how to engage with the local populace, cultural norms
and acceptable interaction, types of ordnance generally found, and
proper identification, disarming and/or disposal of any item found.
Like the experts of the 666 EOD, many members of the KSF EOD teams have
served in the field of ordnance identification and disposal for many
years. OR-6 Mustaf Kryeziu, KSF EOD specialist, said he has been working
in the field of explosives for more than 10 years as armed forces in
Kosovo progressed through numerous formations. Kryeziu said the
relationship with the 666 allows for an exchange of tools, skills,
experiences and best practices. He said that small changes taught by the
U.S. forces identified quicker methods which translate to safer
In addition, the exchange of ideas led to a decrease
in the number of team members and responders from the KSF. Eleven team
members and three vehicles were used to respond to every call; it is now
three person teams in one vehicle allowing for a much faster response
time with the same level of capability.
The KSF EOD is currently
the third responders when unexploded ordnance is found by the local
populace. Citizens generally call the Kosovo police and EULEX who in
turn contact headquarters KFOR who get the word to the closest EOD team.
Together, the entities link up near the site where the call generated
Since the KSF EOD is now fully trained, Miller said the
666 typically observe the KSF EOD team and are on scene to offer
support, expertise and guidance if needed. The KSF EOD is the lead
element during reaction to a call and as such is responsible for
securing the scene, identifying the cause for the call, and deciding on
a course of action for disposal. The conversation and consultation that
occurs between the 666 and KSF is done with the aid of an interpreter
and through non-verbal communication. The teams have been working
together long enough that they trust and understand one another without
the necessity of verbal communication.
“Mustaf [Kryeziu] knows
what he's doing; he's really calm. We've befriended and bonded with a
couple teams and are working well together,” said Miller.
the KSF EOD is reaching goal after goal with the assistance of KFOR EOD
teams, the future holds even more potential for them to be capable of
taking over day to day operations. The exchange of tools and expertise
is far from over however, with KFOR EOD being capable of offering a
location for detonating larger items. In addition, Kryeziu said with his
experience he feels it is good to use the KFOR equipment and knowledge.
He said the collaboration is important as the KSF do not yet have a
method for explosive storage, thus it's good for KFOR to be able to take
control of unexploded ordnance and dispose of it properly to ensure
Kosovo remains safe for those living here.
The long history of
U.S. military explosive ordnance disposal training has helped shape who
they are today. This history is being shared with the KSF EOD, and as
they continue to respond to calls from their fellow neighbors, the KSF
builds their history and hones their skill sets. After each response to
a call, the KSF EOD has added another experience and possibly a new
element of shared knowledge from the KFOR EOD personnel to their
Just as the U.S. EOD experts were originally taught and
trained by their British counterparts, the U.S. EOD is now sharing its
decades of learned knowledge with the KSF EOD. According to the 666, an
EOD catchphrase is ‘initial success or total failure.' The training and
expertise shared by the 666 EOD with the KSF EOD, ensures initial and
continued success for the safety of those in Kosovo for decades to come.
Article and photo by Army SSgt. Anna Doo
77th Sustainment Brigade
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