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EOD working to protect others

by Staff Sgt. Tammie Moore
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

1/23/2006 - BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) -- It takes a special person to deal with the stress of working with explosives.

That pressure motivates the 34 Airmen assigned to the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron’s explosive ordnance disposal flight here and at five forward-operating bases.

Staff Sgt. Micah Jobe, EOD team leader, is one of the Airmen here who responds daily to unexploded ordnance found on and off the installation.

"An average day for us consists of waking up to do physical training, if we are not woken up to respond to calls. Then we go to a morning meeting to receive a briefing on the things we learned from the day before," Sergeant Jobe said.

After that the Airmen complete office work and training until a call comes in.
Since September 2005, EOD Airmen have responded to more than 900 incidents, disposing about 57,000 explosive items totaling more than 7 tons of net explosive weight.

About 95 percent of the calls were off base, said Maj. Arno Bischoff, EOD flight commander. About a third of the responses were for improvised explosive devices, another third for post-blast analysis conducted and the final third were for unexploded ordnance and weapons caches.

"When a team is on primary stand-by, we generally get about two calls a day to respond to off-base," Sergeant Jobe said.

When the Airmen respond to these off-base calls they work with an Army quick response force which provides protection for the Airmen outside the wire.

"They are our security the whole time we are off base," Sergeant Jobe said. "They do a good job."

Besides assisting with off-base calls, Soldiers and Airmen work side by side running the Joint Defense Operations Center, or JDOC. This provides command and control of the defense of Logical Support Area Anaconda and Balad.

During a post-attack, mission, reconnaissance teams call in unexploded ordnance to their Unit Control Center and in turn to the JDOC. The center then sends out EOD and crater analysis team.

"Security forces personnel cordon the area off before we go in," Sergeant Jobe said. "We make sure the area is safe before performing crater analysis. Then we further evaluate the (unexploded ordnance) to determine whether or not it is safe to blow it up in place and what protective measures must be implemented if it needs to be destroyed."

Overall, EOD is responsible for the battle space around Anaconda, extending out more than 18,000 square miles and forming the largest EOD flight under U.S. Central Command Air Forces.

The Airmen in the flight take pride in their jobs.

"When you take care of an IED you are essentially saving a life and that is rewarding," Sergeant Jobe said.

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