Airmen Handle Nearly Half of Afghan EOD Ops

The Air Force is now conducting about 46 percent of all the explosive ordnance disposal missions in Afghanistan since the service expanded it EOD role in that theater to meet a rise in roadside bomb threats. Airmen of the 755th Air Expeditionary Group EOD Operating Location Bravo at Kandahar Airfield serve as the logistical hub and command element, covering seven forward operating bases in Regional Command East and Regional Command South. Their MRAP (mine-resistant, ambush-protected) trucks are loaded with EOD equipment and multiple radios, enabling them to converse with any unit, any country’s troops, said TSgt. Ronald White, EOD technician deployed from Andersen AFB, Guam. Operating generally in three-person teams, the airmen first try to dismantle any explosive device by employing robots from inside the truck. Since a team chief has to dismantle a device by hand if the robot can’t handle the job, robot operator SrA. Emily Walker, deployed from Ramstein AB, Germany, said, “I do what I can to keep my team chief from … getting killed.” When an EOD team must take a helicopter to a distant location, they have two different pre-packed backpacks, one for day trips and one for longer, carrying “all of our stuff we need to do the mission—time fuse, TNT, smoke grenades,” said SSgt. Tyson Johnson, deployed from Peterson AFB, Colo. During the six months these EOD specialists have been deployed, they’ve responded to more than 300 incidents and destroyed nearly 131,000 munitions. (Kandahar report by SSgt. Rachel Martinez)