ex­plo­sive ord­nance dis­posal

the us army’s eod spe­cial­ists have their ori­gins in the world wars, where they took their cue from Bri­tish de­vel­op­ments in Pro­fes­sional Bomb dis­posal

History of War - - A VISION OF HELL -

Bomb dis­posal be­came a for­malised prac­tice dur­ing WWI when the Bri­tish Army ded­i­cated a sec­tion of ‘Ord­nance Ex­am­in­ers’ from the Royal Army Ord­nance Corps to han­dle the grow­ing prob­lem of dud shells fired by both the Al­lied and Cen­tral Pow­ers.

Nev­er­the­less, the US Army had no bomb dis­posal ap­pa­ra­tus un­til WWII, when they took in­spi­ra­tion from the Bri­tish, who had spe­cialised their bomb dis­posal units dur­ing the Blitz of 1940. Amer­i­can bomb dis­posal was there­fore ini­tially planned as a civil­ian func­tion, but in the wake of Pearl Har­bor re­spon­si­bil­ity fell to the US Army for mil­i­tary pur­poses.

From 1942, Amer­i­can EOD sol­diers were trained in Bri­tain and be­gan ac­tively op­er­at­ing dur­ing the in­va­sion of Si­cily in 1943. EOD has been an es­sen­tial com­po­nent of the US Armed Forces ever since, and its sol­diers have served in ev­ery Amer­i­can con­flict since 1945, in­clud­ing Viet­nam.

To­day, most US Army EOD per­son­nel are part of the 52nd Ord­nance Group, although some are or­gan­ised un­der the Na­tional Guard. De­spite the huge size of the army, EOD spe­cial­ists num­ber less than 1,200 sol­diers and of­fi­cers. This small size re­flects their ex­per­tise but also the per­sonal risks they are will­ing to take to dis­pose of dan­ger­ous ord­nance.

BELOW: Lieu­tenant Mike Run­kle of the US Navy (left) and Staff Sergeant Ben Walker of the US Army pre­pare charges to blow up stock­piled ord­nance left by Alqaeda near Kandahar, Afghanistan, 23 De­cem­ber 2001

ABOVE: A Bri­tish NCO pre­pares to dis­pose of an un­ex­ploded bomb in 1918 dur­ing WWI

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