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New EOD team comes to Africa

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 2004102475017
Story by Cpl. Jeff M. Nagan

CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti (Oct. 21, 2004) -- After more than six months in the Horn of Africa, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 8, Detachment 20 completed their tour and returned back to Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, Oct. 14.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 8, Detachment 18, which is also based out of Sicily, arrived Oct. 15 as the new ordnance disposal team aboard Camp Lemonier.
Detachment 20, which arrived here in April, worked continuously to ensure the base is safe by providing immediate action should something suspicious be detected within or near Camp Lemonier, according to Navy Lt. Oscar E. Rojas, officer in charge, Detachment 20.
“We were kept extremely busy while deployed here,” Rojas said, a native of Amarillo, Texas. “In addition to our primary mission to respond on base, we also were able to do a lot of other real world training.”
The team performed operations to remove more than 160 pieces of unexploded ordnance, which terrorists could possibly use to manufacture improvised explosive devices, Rojas said. The team also assisted in training with people of several host countries in the region.
“We also provided hands-on and classroom training to more than 500 personnel in basic IED recognition and the basics in demolitions procedures,” Rojas said. “We had a total of 32 classes.”
Much of the success the EOD team had during their deployment depended on the support they received from those around them and the contributions they made to their mission, Rojas said.
“The support personnel gave us was incredible, and it allowed us to accomplish our mission,” Rojas said. “The people we work for throughout the chain of command were supportive in all our missions. Whatever we needed, they went out of their way to ensure we got it.”
In Sicily, a majority of the unit will be on a contingency stand-down should anything arise, while several members of the detachment will be placed in a new team and start the training cycle to be deployed in as soon as six months, Rojas said.
“We have a big footprint to fill,” said Chief Petty Officer Dan R. Trout, leading chief petty officer, EOD Mobile Unit 8, Detachment 18. “They established a great working relationship with many of the units here. I expect our detachment to integrate the same if not better than the last team.”
Although they will continue to provide base response for Camp Lemonier, Detachment 18 hopes to foster the relationships their predecessors have created, according to Trout, native a West Palm Beach, Fla.
“Our first and foremost mission is the base, but we want to establish strong working relationships with those on this base,” Trout said. “Our secondary goal is to get out there and work with our host nation allies.”
In addition to accomplishing their mission and strengthening relationships, the unit will have plenty of opportunities for good training aboard Camp Lemonier and throughout the Horn of Africa, Trout said. The unit looks forward to working with various units to include the French commandoes and Djiboutian military.
Before the detachment could deploy, they had to complete an eight-month, three-phase training cycle, Trout said. As the team had completed their final evaluation phase in April, the team was tasked to deploy to Camp Lemonier. Since then, the unit continues to do sustainment training on the various types of ordnance and improvised devices used in the region.
“We have been doing our training cycle for eight months doing phase training to be a deployable EOD team,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Roy E. Sedano, EOD technician, Detachment 18. “It’s good to get out the door and do our job and get a lot of good training with those around the base. It should be a good six months.”
Although several members of the unit are leaving behind loved ones for their six-month deployment, many of them are excited to be here accomplishing the mission.
“Anytime we get a call for an explosive device or suspicious package, we go out and do our procedures to make sure it’s safe for those in the area,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class James A. Lester, EOD assistant, Detachment 18. “I’m excited to be out doing what I’ve signed up for.”

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