Story by 2nd Lt. Patrick Leroy Beaudry, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD–C
BAGHDAD—Soldiers with Company D, 1st “Dragon” Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center and their counterparts with the 17th Iraqi Army Division conducted a controlled demolition of captured enemy munitions June 7 at the Qa’qaa range, near Baghdad.
This collection and destruction of the illicit munitions was recently identified as a top priority by Staff Maj. Gen. Ali, commander of the 17th IA Div. The goal was to destroy the unusable and possibly unstable munitions seized by the division.
Recently, after a soccer game between Soldiers with the 17th IA Div. and the 5th IA Div., Ali instructed his convoy to make a stop at his division’s Field Engineer Regiment to discuss the disposal of the munitions. Within a week, plans were in place. The 17th IA Div. invited Company D and members of the 710th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, attached to Company D, to observe and advise on the destruction.
The U.S. EOD team had been preparing for this event since they first set foot in the Iraqi Army’s area of operations. Every month, Staff Sgt. Rommel Antonio, a team leader with the 710th EOD Company and a Woodland, Calif., native, gathered additional plastic explosives to facilitate the destruction of an ever-increasing inventory of captured enemy munitions.
“The disposal of captured munitions on the Qa’qaa range enabled coalition forces to continue to use the range for future training and demolition operations,” Antonio said. “The entire demolition operation was Iraqi-led, with EOD personnel providing technical and logistical assistance as well as training the IA for future demolitions.”
Parts of a 17th IA Div. base had become so congested from the hundreds of mortars, rockets, and improvised explosive devices that safety had become one of the driving factors the controlled detonation mission.
Despite the large quantities of explosives detonated at the Qa’qaa range on June 7, the Mahmudiyah area—for which the 17th IA Div. is responsible—is largely peaceful. The destroyed explosives were tangible proof that the efforts of the 17th IA Div. had taken dangerous weapons out of the hands of violent extremist organizations.
All told, by the end of the day, more than 5,000 pounds of explosives were destroyed. The final ‘boom’ was celebrated by the U.S. and Iraqi Soldiers alike—it signified the safe removal of deadly munitions that could have been used by the enemy.
“It was a productive day working jointly with the Iraqi Field Engineer Regiment and the EOD in an effort to destroy various types of dangerous munitions for the good of the people,” said Lt. Col. Todd Reed, with the 17th IA Stability Transition Team, attached to 1st Bn., 63rd Armor Regt.