US Army EOD Soldiers Collaborate with Kosovan Demining School

CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo — The 702nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, assigned to the explosive ordnance team for Regional Command-East, Kosovo Force, traveled to Dakovica to witness the Mine Action Training Kosovo school conduct their range day qualifications.

MAT Kosovo is a humanitarian demining school which trains its student in different levels of EOD certification. The course covers many techniques concerning unexploded ordnance (UXO) identification and removal as well as methods of disposal. MAT Kosovo also works closely with the Kosovo Security Force EOD team to complete training and focus on demining efforts.

“MAT Kosovo is a phenomenal opportunity to take advantage of when it comes to training with the KSF and promoting the humanitarian demining efforts in Kosovo,” said 1st Lt. Taylor Firn, platoon leader with the 702nd. “MAT Kosovo originated here to restore freedom of movement in Kosovo.”

As the KFOR and KSF EOD teams observed, the MAT Kosovo students qualified and demonstrated their abilities by using low-order techniques to dismantle an unexploded ordnance. They used different small explosives to render simulated UXOs ineffective. Low-order methods are designed to slowly burn off high-explosives and prevent a UXO from detonating to its full potential, said Firn.

By the end, the students were qualified in level three EOD operations.

“High-order is when the explosive functions how it’s meant to function,” said Doug York, the general manager for MAT Kosovo. “Low-order is where you’re trying to dispose of the ordnance without it functioning. We use explosives to initiate deflagration within the ordnance to burn all the explosives on the inside.”

Firn has made it a priority for his EOD team to reach out and forge relationships with institutions in Kosovo that play a key role in maintaining peace and stability in the region.

“We appreciate our friendship with American forces,” said York. “It’s important to us to build on it and continue to do cross-training to keep the flow of information between EOD teams active.”

Military EOD teams and civilian organizations like MAT Kosovo routinely enter high-risk situations to remove UXO and dispose of it in a safe manner. Their coordinated efforts help ensure freedom of movement as well as a safe and secure environment for the people of Kosovo.

“It’s always fun to get out and watch explosions,” said Firn, “but my favorite thing was getting face time and furthering that link between the KSF and MAT Kosovo. That’s our real mission here in KFOR.”

Story by Jonathan Perdelwitz

Photos by SGT Jonathan Perdelwitz

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