FOB FALCON, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2008) – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers conducted explosive ordnance training with Iraqi security forces bomb disposal technicians Nov. 16 at Forward Operating Base Falcon in southern Baghdad. Soldiers and leaders from the 752nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, attached to the 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, MND-B, detonated a van full of munitions to train soldiers from the 9th Iraqi Army Bomb Disposal Company on the proper techniques for effective post-blast site exploitation.
“I think this training is important for the Iraqi EOD because it gives them a chance to see how we operate,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen Cunningham, a team leader assigned to the 752nd EOD Co.The Soldiers packed the van with approximately 200 pounds of explosives to properly depict a real-world scenario. “As far as their equipment is concerned, they have plenty of robots; their bomb suits and their knowledge is very up to date,” explained Cunningham. “They know what they’re dealing with, especially when it comes to conventional ordnance.” The training keeps the IA soldiers on their toes and it contributes to the fight in the long run, said Spc. Curtis Garner, an EOD specialist assigned to the 752nd EOD Co.
“They seem really responsive, and they have a good grasp on what they are doing for their country,” stated Garner. “We just offer them a different avenue, outlook or thought process.”
“In the beginning, we received good training and knowledge from our friends,” said Lt. Col. Neve Rathwan Risa, commander of the 9th IA Div. Bomb Disposal Company. “They have good experience, and hopefully we will develop ourselves to deal with the improvised explosive devices.” Risa stressed the importance of knowledge and training to his soldiers and said he believes the exercise was a good opportunity for Iraqi bomb disposal technicians to train with coalition forces. “It’s very important to have this kind of branch in the new IA to deal with all the roadside bombs and to disarm any explosive devices and make the roads safe for the people and the army,” Risa said.
The team is an excellent bomb disposal company, said 1st Lt. Brad Lewis, EOD technician assigned to the 752nd EOD Co. They are one of the leading bomb disposal companies in the IA. “These guys played a big part in the push for Sadr City earlier this year,” stated Lewis. “Since, we have been trying to work them by establishing training programs, training of the younger soldiers and getting them to the point where they could pass the EOD school in Basra.”
This type of training signifies what the ISF needs to eventually take control of another operational area, said Maj. Mike Ricciarti, liaison to MND-B EOD operations. Ricciarti said coalition forces are a better-equipped and trained force over the last five years and he believes improvements for the ISF are on the horizon. “We are partnered with the ISF; we are mentoring them, and we are assisting on levels that we can,” Ricciarti explained. “We’re sharing tactics, techniques and procedures that will help them stay alive and continue on with their mission.”
May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.