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Destroying tools of destruction

By 1Lt. Kristoffer Egeberg
First published in
SFOR Informer#108, March 7, 2001

Travnik - With a large flash of flames and smoke followed by a thunderous burst, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has rid another part of deadly weapons. At the same time, soldiers from the newly developed EOD-branch in Romania build on their experience. And since the project is closely tied to Operation Harvest and civilian effort, it's truly one for the better.
Three years ago, the Netherlands and Romania signed a Memorandum of Understanding including Dutch support to the Romanian Army to develop their own EOD-branch within their engineers. Both countries deal with a vast amount of deadly leftovers from World War II some 55 years after it ended. But a vital part of the live training goes on in SFOR, combining needy education with making BiH safer.
In the Dutch Battle Group in Bugonjo one Dutch and one Romanian EOD team live and work together, dealing with all kinds of EOD problems in the Central Bosnia Canton 6.
“Usually on every Saturday, we destroy items collected during the week through Operation Harvest or special weapons collection points. Besides this, we take care of unexploded items (UXO) found or reported by civilians,” says Capt. Daniel Dragoescu from the Romanian EOD-team.
This Saturday the load is “only” 39 rifle-grenades, 11 hand-grenades, three 100-mm. tank-grenades, an M57 rifle and 1300 rounds of small-arms ammunition.
“Snow-fall and bad weather hindered the collection this week. Normally it's a lot more. Also reports on UXO's are weather-dependent. We are just waiting for better weather when people start digging in their gardens and fields. Spring and autumn is especially hectic periods for us,” says Dutch EOD Technical adviser for the Romanian team WO1 Frans Ramachers.
The Dutch and Romanians work closely with Canton 6's local Civil Protection Team, which also deal with UXO disposal. Team-leader Viktor Kristo has brought with him a kit of advanced shaped charges, which are designed to dispose of UXO's with a minimum charge of explosives. This lowers the risk of “high ordnance,” meaning fragmentation during the demolition.
“This is a special demonstration for today,” says Kristo as he sets up a charge on a collected Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG), using a laser to aim the charge. The Dutch and Romanians watch closely with interest, always looking for safer and more efficient ways of demolishing UXO's.
“Safety is the most important thing. In the EOD-business we treat everyone the same and watch out for each other, regardless of rank. And we take our time. No running or hurrying,” says Dutch EOD-Team member Staff Sgt. Hans Molenaar.
“Our co-operation with the Dutch EOD-team is very good. They are skilful teachers, and always merry but serious when they work with explosives. EOD is quite new for us in the Romanian Army. Up until now, we have also had civilian teams taking care of UXO's. Now we are building up our own branch,” says Capt. Dragoescu.
In SFOR the team faces a lot of challenges in their field, gaining experience to bring home.
“Every time the task is different, with different measures of protection. The most normal UXO's we deal with is hand- and rifle-grenades, but also mortar grenades and bombs,” he says.
And every Saturday they have a new load of collected items to blow up. Gaining more knowledge, maybe saving lives and making Canton 6 and BiH a safer place to live in.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Netherland, Romania
SFOR at Work
Training and Exercises