COORDINATED COUNTER-UXO OPERATIONS
EOD teams of a minimum of two soldiers usually operate independently to respond to UXO incidents scattered across wide areas of the battlefield. These EOD teams have limited assets and may require additional support in the clearance of UXO. Additional personnel and heavy equipment may be provided by other units on the battlefield, to include engineer and ammunition units, when directed by appropriate command authorities. These units may provide valuable assets that act as an EOD force multiplier. However, they are not trained to perform the UXO mission.
Likely scenarios for EOD teams are multiple UXO clearances and disposal operations involving MSRs, airfield recoveries. ASPs, and port facilities. Multiple UXO operations are best defined as those involving areas saturated with UXOs that threaten the commander's combat power functions of maneuver, mobility, survivability, and logistics. These types of operations are time sensitive and personnel intensive and may require external support for the responding EOD team or unit. Successfully preserving the commander's combat power from the effects of multiple UXO may depend on a cooperative association between supporting and supported units. Chapter 5 has more details on multiple UXO incidents.
The EOD team must positively identify the hazards and provide safety guidance for all supported units. It must render safe any UXO that cannot be destroyed by detonation. The EOD team leader prepares a plan of attack with concurrence from the supported unit commander. Before implementing the plan, the EOD team briefs supported and supporting units on what EOD will be doing so that everyone knows the safety considerations. The EOD team leader will maintain communications with the EOD chain of command and supported and supporting units' OIC and NCOIC to ensure safety is always the first priority. When unsafe activities needlessly expose soldiers to danger, the EOD team leader may revert to a role of only providing technical assistance. EOD teams and units will--
- Coordinate with the supported unit and develop a plan of action.
- Conduct an initial reconnaissance of the area.
- Provide positive ordnance identification and safety guidance.
- Perform render safe and/or disposal procedures.
- Provide a dedicated technical advisor to the on-scene commander.
- Provide overall supervision of a consolidated UXO demolition area that can be moved.
A large UXO operation will most likely require action by the RAOC or the unit's G3 section. Mission parameters, such as timelines and priorities, have to be defined. While EOD can provide technical analysis and develop a plan of attack, supported units will be responsible for overall mission planning and coordinating and executing the plan.
In many situations the supported unit commander or his representative is in overall command of the operation. The EOD team leader provides technical guidance and helps the supported unit commander develop a plan of action. However, the location of the explosive ordnance, enforcement of safety measures, render safe procedures, and removal of the explosive ordnance are the responsibility of the EOD team leader.
Additional assets may be required which cannot be provided by the EOD team or the supported unit. Multiple UXO incidents could take several days or weeks to complete, threatening critical assets and restricting the commander's combat power. Supporting units could provide additional personnel to build protective works or remove supplies and equipment. They could also provide equipment to assist in the operation. Additionally, host-nation support should be considered as a source of possible assets. Engineers, QASAS personnel, military police, transportation, ammunition, aviation assets, fire department, and medical personnel are some who could support a large UXO clearance operation.
Supported and supporting units will coordinate with the EOD operations section and develop a plan of action. The plan of action will--
- Establish safe areas.
- Establish demolition areas as required.
- Establish all safety procedures and necessary SOPs.
- Identify all logistical requirements.
- Determine personnel and equipment requirements.
- Establish a realistic timeline for completion of the mission.
- Prepare an after-action report and send it through the chain of command of all supporting elements.
A supported unit may also provide the on-scene commander as the situation demands. It may also provide the necessary equipment (such as M-9 armored combat equipment and trucks) and coordinate all necessary logistical requirements through the chain of command.
EOD units regularly assist ASPs during peacetime operations. For example, they might support the routine destruction of unserviceable ammunition by ASP personnel. They might also support the emergency destruction of ASPs or postattack cleanup. The following scenario shows how an EOD unit might respond to an incident at an ASP.
An ASP has been attacked and large amounts of unexploded ordnance are scattered in a relatively small area. Substantial quantities of useable ammunition remain. However, ASP operations are severely restricted and existing ammunition stocks are threatened. Since combat power has been jeopardized because of the reduced ammunition flow to combat units, this incident has been identified as the number one UXO priority. Therefore, all assets required for the incident should be directed to support UXO cleanup at the ASP.
UXO reports are sent to the area commander that has EOD in DS. The area commander and staff process the reports and analyze the situation and the impact the UXO problem has on operations. The commander's staff, which includes an EOD representative, recommends priorities. In determining a course of action, the area commander selects the highest priority (immediate) because the ASP is a critical asset. Immediate priority requires prompt EOD action to return the ASP to full mission capability.
After examining the UXO reports from the ASP, the EOD staff officer recommends that the area commander requests additional EOD assets. These assets may include the use of other services or host-nation EOD personnel. However, these EOD assets may not be available because of other battlefield UXO incidents. Therefore, other non-EOD assets may be required to support rapid recovery of the ASP. Once available assets have been identified and tasked to support this counter-UXO operation, you would concentrate on the actual steps of the operation as described below.
Establish a RCP. Near the ASP, but outside the blast/fragmentation area, establish a RCP. The RCP will be the support unit base and will act as the coordinating point for all operations. The RCP is the entry point for access to the area.
Complete a map reconnaissance of the area. Assemble an overall safety plan and brief emergency actions to all personnel. Then assign EOD teams to a grid for the hasty reconnaissance and immediate action phases of this operation. Base the grid size on the number and types of UXO, the overall size of the affected area, supported unit commander's priorities, type of terrain, the assets threatened by the UXO, and the manpower and equipment available. Take these actions before any non-EOD personnel proceed downrange. As the EOD teams start their hasty reconnaissance, the necessary support personnel and equipment should start arriving.
Perform the hasty reconnaissance and immediate action phases (EOD operation). Each EOD team proceeds to its assigned grid, conducts a reconnaissance, and completes immediate action procedures on the ordnance found. When finished, the EOD teams return to brief the RCP. The supported and supporting units and EOD then jointly develop a plan for the disposal phase. Based on the information from the EOD teams and the ASP commander's guidance, the RCP plots and then prioritizes the ordnance for the render safe/disposal plan. At the same time, the supported unit should do the following: examine the priorities of the UXO and the supported and supporting units' recovery operation, develop (with the recommendations of EOD) an overall plan of attack to clear the most important areas first, prepare a concept of operation to include safety considerations, and brief all personnel. Generally this will be a two-part brief, the supported and supporting units briefing the concept while EOD briefs safety.
Prepare a plan of attack. The plan of attack must be flexible. Each situation will be different and may demand adaptation of methods and procedures for the best solution. Unforeseen problems may mean halting the operation and developing a new plan. Depending on the size of the areas to be cleared and the priorities of clearance, all the actions could take place at the same time or in very controlled phases. Except where stated, these procedures can be accomplished jointly.
Consider what areas to clean up first and what is essential to make the ASP operational. Give priority to the roadways and to those bunkers or stacks that are vital to the war effort. Demolition-trained ammunition personnel can be used to help at the demolition range, under EOD supervision. They can also assist UXO destruction-in-place.
Perform hasty reconnaissance in order of priority. Each EOD team will conduct a hasty reconnaissance of its assigned area and perform any immediate action procedures. Once they have completed their reconnaissance they will return to the RCP to plan the cleanup and disposal phases.
Take action. Build protective works for those items that threaten assets. While building protective works, sweep and mark other areas. Prepare and place demolition charges upon completion of marking. In another area, an EOD team may be rendering safe UXO that cannot be destroyed by detonation. Many types of UXO may be destroyed by direct fire techniques using the basic guidelines in FM 90-13-1 and FM 20-32. Take UXO or residues that are safe to transport to a consolidated demolition area for disposal.
The steps above have been provided to give guidance and understanding of some of the factors involved when dealing with large, multiple UXO operations. Every situation will be different, but the principles of teamwork, safety, and effectiveness stay the same.
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