Kuwaiti, U.S. Ordnance Techs Share Experience, Techniques

April 03, 2018

Explosive ordnance disposal technicians with the Kuwait Land Forces and the U.S. Army trained together March 22 at Gerber Training Area here, to improve both countries’ ability to counter improvised explosive devices during terror attacks in cities.

Kuwaiti officers led the way through the training lanes using their tactics, techniques and procedures, allowing the U.S. observers to pick up some ideas and to share some of their own techniques.

“Today we’re working with our Kuwaiti partners to practice working in an urban operation, just to better familiarize ourselves and our Kuwaiti partners in what might happen in a Boston bombing or Paris, France-style attack,” said Army Staff Sgt. Zachary Zalesny, an explosive ordnance technician with the 797th Ordnance Company.

In deliberate terror attacks like what took place in Boston, Paris, and other locations, attackers often plant multiple devices to sow confusion and uncertainty.

Slow, Methodical Search

“The big key points when dealing with an attack like that is that there’s usually a lot of areas where improvised explosive devices might be hidden, and you have to move slowly and methodically to make sure you don’t miss anything,” Zalesny said.

The Kuwait Land Forces officers used simple tools and techniques to spot probable enemy devices and other traps, then worked to defeat them.

“What that means is that we’re going to identify the threat, assess the situation, and come up with a plan in order to either defuse the situation or get rid of it entirely,” said Army 1st Lt. William J. Henderson, a platoon leader with the 797th Ordnance Company.

While the exact steps each force takes to defeat IEDs are withheld for security reasons, techniques are designed to limit the consequences of an explosion, limit the chances of an explosion, and to keep EOD technicians safe while they work.

Soldiers use a variety of tools to safely find and identify IEDs.

“So, usually in urban operations we like to use canines because they’re good at locating IEDs,” Zalesny said. “In addition to that, we use robots as well as radiographic devices like X-rays to find or confirm any IEDs in the area.”

The EOD robot has become an iconic piece of equipment, but they have some limitations, he said.

“The robots are usually pretty efficient,” Zalesny said. “At times they can be overwhelmed by just a lot of things to go through. At times they can be tricky to maneuver and open things up, so that’s why we usually rely on multiple types of robots as well as K-9s and X-rays to go through things.”

For the U.S. and Kuwaiti soldiers, exchanging ideas allows the forces to grow closer together.

“It’s always a pleasure, working with the Kuwaitis,” Henderson said. “This training has been a long time coming — a lot of months went into planning it, and it’s exciting to see this coming together.”

He added, “It just kind of gets everyone on the same page, like I said. The threat is global, and so, when we get chances, we want to work together, train together.”