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Alabama Guard EOD unit trains for Kosovo deployment

Friday, April 01, 2011

Alabama National Guardsmen with the 666th Ordnance Detachment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) from Jacksonville, Ala., are training at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind., in preparation for an upcoming deployment to Kosovo.

They are refreshing their many uses of explosives in typical EOD fashion and have even put .50-caliber sniper rounds down range.

The 666th is getting ready to deploy in support of Kosovo Forces and will play an important role in Kosovo stabilization largely because the use of land mines in that part of the world during the Yugoslav Civil Wars from 1991-1995 is extensive.

During the various training events the 666th practiced while here, one highlight was placing and detonating controlled explosions – setting up various charges to explode in a safe environment, the same way they might dispose of unexploded ordnance during their deployment.

In addition to training in controlled detonations, they also practiced breaching charges.

To breach a standard plywood wall, for instance, solders traced the shape of an entryway onto the wall with detonation wire. When the wire was detonated, it sliced through the plywood like a Ginsu knife through a tomato on a late-night television advertisement.

Only a few days earlier, 666th soldiers familiarized themselves with sniper rifles.

One might ask: "What do EOD soldiers need with sniper rifles?"

The answer is a tactic referred to as stand-off munitions disruption, or SMUD.

This tactic is to fire a large bullet at a munition from a safe distance in an attempt to disrupt its firing train.

"You don’t see this technique used very often," Sgt. Anthony L. Blackmon, Cullman, Ala., and a 666th EOD team member, said.

Adding, "With all of the techniques available to EOD teams with modern technology, you typically don’t need to use SMUD."

Blackmon said the training is helpful because it can’t be counted on that every day will be "typical."

He added, the only situation in which SMUD might be used is when a munition needs to be disrupted extremely quickly, and there is no risk of collateral damage should it detonate.

"It’s just another method we have at our disposal. You don’t typically use it, but we can if we have to," Blackmon said.

Blackmon and other soldiers said the facilities at Atterbury have allowed them to get the most out of their time here.

"It’s one of the better training environments I have been in; and the chow has been pretty good, too," Blackmon said.

1st Lt. Bryce W. Williams, the 666th detachment commander, said Camp Atterbury, with its hilly, wooded terrain and cold winter weather, has provided a realistic training environment for the unit’s upcoming mission.

"We have been really pleased with the training facilities here so far," said Williams. "The training staff here is very knowledgeable, and the training lanes have been great."