FORT STORY, Va. (NNS) -- U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians facing deployments in the global war on terrorism honed their skills by defusing mock bombs June 7 at the EOD Training and Evaluation Unit 2 facility located at Fort Story, Va.
Navy EOD units, now part of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, have contributed significantly to joint and coalition forces' efforts in Iraq. Many members of these units have already completed at least one deployment to the region and now expect to return for follow-on tours.
These explosive ordnance disposal experts disarm mines, booby traps and other improvised explosive devices. They can also tackle the challenges of chemical, radiological and biological threats.
"We are fully capable and do adapt to whatever the threat may become," said Cmdr. Thomas B. Smith, commanding officer of EOD Training and Evaluation Unit (TEU) 2.
Even though all services have EOD units, some say Navy EOD represents the "force of choice" in Iraq when it comes to neutralizing bombs, improvised explosive devices and unexpended ordnance.
"These EOD units have a special capability that no one else does," said Rear Adm. Donald K. Bullard, commander of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command.
Unlike their counterparts in other services, Navy EOD experts can defuse bombs in nearly any environment. They may parachute from planes or dive underwater to defuse explosives.
Training is paramount for all EOD professionals. The required Navy EOD training tests the mettle of Sailors who complete diver and parachute training before they join a team.
The 150-acre U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal site at Fort Story represents one phase of an extended, rigorous training curriculum. In addition to simulated roadside bombs and IEDs, the training includes combing through the underworld of mock-Middle Eastern region tunnels and caves where EOD techs might look for hidden munitions.
"More sweat on the training field means less blood on the battlefield," Smith said.
Technology can save lives, and providing troops on the battlefield with innovative and effective technology enables the fight. Often, mechanical warriors, such as a two-track robot that looks like a Martian probe, act in concert with an EOD team.
"It's probably one of the best tools we've got besides our brain and our people," said Lt. Joanna Helm, who took part in the training and expects to deploy soon.
Smith contends that a qualified EOD member remains the best trained response to a threat. He believes the skills Sailors learn at this ocean-side, East Coast Army base will save civilian and military lives - including Americans, Iraqis and members of coalition partners' forces.
"We're a high commodity over in Iraq," said Helm. "We're pretty much training the way we fight."
In January the Navy created the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, bringing EOD, Naval Coastal Warfare, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support functions and the Seabees under one umbrella. NECC integrates all warfighting requirements for expeditionary combat and combat support elements. This transformation allows for standardized training, manning and equipping of Sailors who will participate in the global war on terrorism as part of the joint force. It also results in more capable, responsive and effective expeditionary Sailors.
Sailors interested in the EOD program should contact the EOD recruiter, visit their command career counselors or visit the Web at www.eod.navy.mil.
For more news from around the fleet, visit www.navy.mil.