Members of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 1, assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, recently wrapped up a 25-day Humanitarian Mine Action Level 1 training class hosted by the Tanzania People's Defense Force in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Consisting of two U.S. Navy EOD technicians and a corpsman, the mobile team instructed a class of 20 TPDF soldiers in topics such as ordnance disposal,knot tying, emergency medical care, and weapons identification.
The purpose of the class was to enhance the TPDF's skills in detecting and clearing landmines, identifying and disposing of explosive remnants, and providing physical security and stockpile management of explosive hazards.
"Like we do at EOD school, we started from the beginning," said Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Johnson, Leading Petty Officer of EOD Mobile Unit 1. "We taught the basics of fuse functioning, reconnaissance, different ordnance categories and also the practical skills that go along with that. Most of the course was designed around that and the safety precautions that go with any EOD operation."
Risk is inherent in any EOD action, and because of that risk, students also received classes on emergency combat first aid.
"It's a dangerous job, and because of the dangers we must also address what to do if there is an injury," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Isgar, EOD Mobile Unit 1. "It was great working with students who understood how important all aspects of the training are. They really showed a dedication to learn the concepts we taught."
That dedication proved to be invaluable as the students spent more than 90 hours in the classroom learning to identify rockets, mortars, grenades, booby traps, missiles, and ammunition. In addition, the course focused 35 hours on hands-on training during practical exercises. In the field, the students worked through scenarios designed to test their skills in landmine detection, unexploded ordnance removal and decision making.
The event included more than classroom and practical exercises, however. In Tanzania a mid-morning tea break is customary. During the breaks, the students quizzed the instructors on the students' native language, Swahili, which helped both forces open up and establish a rapport.
"We learned Swahili and taught them some English, but we also built a bond," said Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 2nd Class Andrews, EOD Mobile Unit 1. "We didn't just come together as teacher and student, but as people from two nations bonding and learning together."
"I was so happy to see them interested [in learning] our language; it's part of who we are and it made us happy to share that with our instructors," said Capt. Yohane, a TPDF officer from the Central Administration.
As the training concluded, the students and instructors both agreed the TPDF is now better equipped to remove the scattered remnants of past conflicts and better prepared to physically secure and safeguard stockpiles of ammunition and explosives.