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52nd Ordnance Group (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)

The 52nd Ordnance Group (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), headquartered at Fort Campbell, Kentucky is a command and control headquarters for Army explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) companies and battalions. Subordinate units maintain EOD Response Teams, which evaluate, render safe, and remove conventional, chemical/biological, or nuclear ordnance, or improvised explosive devices that pose an immediate threat to public safety. While subordinate units are trained and equipped for combat operations, they may also support a variety of peacetime missions, to include range surface clearance operations of active Army installations.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel are tasked to reduce the hazard of domestic or foreign conventional, nuclear, chemical, biological and improvised explosive ordnance which threatens personnel, operations, installations or material. This requires personnel to be able to function in a tactical environment and to perform a myriad of related duties. Ordnance and Explosives (OE) include all munitions containing explosives, propellants, nuclear fission or fusion materials, biological or chemical agents (as defined in AR 50-6) or bulk explosives. Examples include bombs, rocket and missile warheads and motors, artillery and mortar projectiles, mines, torpedoes, depth charges, fuzes, pyrotechnics, small arms (to include electric and mechanical actuated cartridges and devices), and bulk explosives or residue. Not included are examples such as the various Live Agent Simulant Kits, oxygen or acetylene tanks, or non-munition scrap metal. Subordinate units of the 52nd Ordnance Group are not intended to operate as OE clearance or disposal contractors, to certify property as clear of OE, or to serve as transportation or explosives supply assets to contractor operations.

As the clouds of World War II loomed in Europe, reports began to filter back to the US War Department of the need for Bomb Disposal Squads. The Commanding General of the Ordnance Training Center at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, directed Colonel Thomas J. Kane to develop a bomb disposal program. In January 1942, the Bomb Disposal School was activated at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland. A fully equipped cadre of British Bomb Disposal instructors trained the first classes to graduate the school. Colonel Kane and his staff departed for England to observe disposal operations and atten the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal School.

Following the British methods of teaching on a need to know basis, officers only were taught render safe procedures for fuzes. Enlisted personnel were instructed in related support requirements. This method resulted in the policy of officers performing render safe procedures. The first Bomb Disposal units were organized in 1942 as Bomb Disposal Companies, much the same as British units. For purposes of mobility and to reduce response time the units were reorganized in 1943 and 1944 as Bomb Disposal Squads. Since the squads were frequently deployed in teams to several incidents at one time, squad commanders instituted training programs to allow enlisted personnel to perform render safe procedures. As part of the expansion of such capabilities, the 52nd Ordnance Group (EOD) was first constituted on 20 December 1943 in the Army of the United States as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 52nd Ordnance Group and activated on 27 December 1943 at Camp Hood, Texas. Deployed to Europe, the unit particiapted in 5 campaigns during World War II: Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe.

After the end of the Second World War, the unit was reorganized and redesignated on 20 May 1946 as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 52nd Ordnance Service Group and again on 20 December 1946 as the 52nd Ordnance Composite Group. The Group was inactivated on 30 June 1948 in Austria. The unit was redesignated on 8 January 1952 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 52nd Ordnance Group and allotted to the Regular Army. It was activated on 28 January 1952 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and was inactivated there on 16 May 1955 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The Group was reactivated on 2 December 1965 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and subsequently deployed to Vietnam. It served in 3 campaigns there, Counteroffensive, Counteroffensive Phase II, and Counteroffensive Phase III, before being inactivated in country 20 October 1967.

Just as with the 52nd Ordnance Group, EOD units had been redesigned many times after 1945. In January of 1945, the basic units went from being Bomb Disposal Squads to Ordnance Service Detachments (Bomb Disposal). In April of 1945 they became Ordnance Service Squads and in December 1949 this changed again to EOD Squads. In 1954, the units were redesignated as Ordnance Detachment (EOD) and finally in 1968 as Ordnance Detachments (EOD).

The unit was redesignated on 1 October 1993 as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 52d Ordnance Group, and activated at Fort Gillem, Georgia. The unit subsequently became the command and control headquarters for all Active Component Army EOD companies and battalions located in the continental United States (CONUS), as well as the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

As part of this mission, the 52nd Ordnance Group programed for and budgeted enough operational, training, and mission funds (P2 and P8) and publish necessary orders to satisfy EOD training, mission and operational re-quirements for all US Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) EODCTs and EOD units. EODCT would send funding requirements for all the EOD detachments under their operational control to the 52nd Ordnance Group. In addition, the 52nd Ordnance Group had WARTRACE alignment with the US Army National Guard's EOD units, controlled by the 111th Ordnance Group (EOD).

Department of Defense and other Federal agencies routinely provided support to first responders at the local, state, and Federal level in the form of expert advice and assistance. A major source of the information came from a vast knowledge base at Chemical Biological Defense Command (CBDCOM) and the Medical Research and Materiel Command (MRMC). The Defense Technical Response Group, part of the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technical Division, was a joint-service manager for explosive ordnance disposal. Finally, the 52nd Ordnance Group (EOD), could be called upon for assistance. Specially trained EOD operators in Department of Defense special mission units were the primary experts to be called upon by the FBI for access and device disablement operations involving weapons of mass destruction.

In 2004, the US Army activated the 20th Support Command (CBRNE), to which the 52nd Ordnance Group was reassigned. The 20th Support Command also gained Training Readiness Authority for the ARNG's 111th Ordnance Group (EOD). As a result of the Department of Defense's 2005 BRAC recommendations, the 52nd Ordnance Group (EOD) was relocated to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Its old station, Fort Gillem, Georgia was recommeneded for closure in the BRAC recommendations.

In 2006, the expanding EOD capabilities in the US Army required the activation of a second EOD Ordnance Group. The 3rd Ordnance Battalion (EOD) and the 79th Ordnance Battalion (EOD) were subsequently reassigned to the 71st Ordnance Group (EOD).




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