U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians, from Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, teamed with the Namibian Defence Force and Namibian Explosive Control Unit police officers in Arandis, Namibia, recently for Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Level One and International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) training.
“The purpose of us being down here is to show support for their country and to give the understanding of IMAS operations,” said Petty Officer 1st Class John Richards, master EOD technician and class instructor.
The level one skills learned during this exercise will enable Namibian forces to gain a better understanding of operational risk management (ORM), range safety procedures, unexploded ordnance reconnaissance, blasting calculations, handling of electric and timed fused firing set-ups, and medical triage, according to Richards.
IMAS was created by the U.S. government in 2001 to handle and dispose unexploded ordnance in United Nation counties to help safeguard local populations. The specifications of IMAS doctrine include the marking of mine and unexploded ordnance hazards.
U.S. Navy EOD technicians began their instruction by sharing their knowledge with seven Namibian Defence Force and police personnel, from all regions of the country, and in turn, the graduates are now leading more than 20 Namibian students in order for them to take IMAS knowledge back home.
“We’re striving to bring awareness to those who have not been here before and show them basic demolition skills,” said Richards. “We’re giving them skills to recognize and dispose of the remnants of war and other unexploded ordnance. If they ever come across something, they will know how to deal with it.”
The seven students who completed the course beforehand were given extra after-class instruction by the Navy in order to continue their practical applications of this mentorship after the Navy leaves.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Barry Despot, EOD technician and class instructor, said he was pleased with how well the students retained the information they were taught.
“The students stay late and work really hard. They’re eagerly learning the skills we need to teach.”
Namibian Warrant Officer 2 Migal Kambatuku, a class instructor and police department officer, said that she did not know anything about explosive disposal before the U.S. Navy visited her country.
“Train the trainer is important because it gives us knowledge to go out and train our colleagues,” she said. “The skills we learned here will enable us to train those who were not here.”
“The U.S. Navy, with their knowledge and patience, helped us gain more understanding and to comprehend,” she said. “It gives us more confidence to even stand in front of a class and teach others. The Navy gives us the power that we never had before. We will be able to save and life and property now.”
Chief Petty Officer Justin Berlien, Master EOD technician and mission commander, said this training is critical.
“It’s important to continue to build a relationship with this country,” he said. “We are here to help ensure their progression and education in the EOD field. They are very motivated to be self-sufficient in their education and learning. I hope they will continue their advancement to use what they have learned in real-world applications.”
Richards said that he was very impressed with the level of enthusiasm and dedication showed by the members of the military and police department.
“There are star students here and everyone is trying to learn,” he said. “Anytime you get to train others, you in turn learn more. It makes us better technicians. Learning goes both ways.”
Berlien said that the experience has been worthwhile. “They told me that they enjoy us being here,” he said. “They are very professional and [said] that they feel very privileged to have us down here to spend the time to assist them.”
Kambatuku said that she hopes the Navy will come back to her country.
“The next time the Navy comes, I hope they can come with more things that we don’t know,” she said. “But with the knowledge that I have gained from this course, I will be able to assist on any EOD or unexploded ordnance case.”
The participants of the class received a certificate from U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) stating attendance of the course and proof that they have gained an understanding of IMAS EOD level one procedures.