U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility -- Marines of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), MEU Service Support Group 24, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team operated ashore in Kosovo and CENTCOM's area of operations in support of Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines.
Master Sgt. Michael L. Todd, the EOD team leader said of the overall mission of EOD in Kosovo, "The mission of the EOD team is to respond to incidents involving unexploded ordnance (UXO) and improvised explosive devices (IED) presenting hazards to units and equipment in the MEU's area of operation within Multinational Brigade South. (To accomplish this mission) we had the entire team in direct support of the BLT. We all lived in the BLT camp to be more accessible to them."
While in Kosovo, EOD worked with German, Austrian, and to a lesser extent Turkish EOD units. According to Todd, "The best part of working with Multinational Brigade South EOD units was being exposed to different ideas for handling very similar problems. While we were there, we were invited to participate in their "Spiderman" training. Spiderman is an extremely efficient and safe way to extract someone from a minefield by using a (helicopter) with a winch," he said.
Todd explained this extraction process. "They put a man wearing protective clothing and mine shoes in a rescue harness aboard a helicopter, hover over a casualty in a mine field, then lower the man in the harness down to the casualty with a winch. The rescuer then straddles the casualty, hooks him up to the winch via a standard rescue harness, and once the casualty is secure he is then transported to a safe area where medical personnel are standing by, or, having been winched into the (helicopter), the casualty can be transported straight to a hospital depending on the severity of his wounds."
Todd continued by saying, "The best part about being in Kosovo was meeting and interacting with the German and Austrian EOD units... We spent three days with the German EOD team during which time they showed us the entire MNB(S) area... The cooperation was excellent. I asked for them to show us the area and they drove me around for two days. When I told them I would really like to see some areas that were not accessible by vehicle, they immediately picked up the radio and arranged a (helicopter) for the next day."
EOD didn't encounter any unique ordnance items during their mission in Kosovo, but they did have a first. "On one task... a call in support of a Humanitarian Assistance project consisting of laying a water pipe, a team I sent out had to go on horse back due to the terrain," said Todd. Of the horseback riding, Staff Sgt. Todd M. Corbin stated, "The horses were very small and sure footed. They were also equipped with wooden saddles."
After Kosovo, in U.S. Central Command's Area of Responsibility, EOD worked in support of the BLT on ranges, making sure they were safe. They also made sure training areas were free of unexploded ordnance.
According to Todd, missions EOD is capable of supporting include Mass Casualty, Humanitarian Assistance, and Noncombatant Evacuation Operations. "There's not a single MEU mission that we can't support. Of the different scenarios we can be written into there's also Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel. We've been trained in foreign and domestic aircraft and the hazards associated with them."