From Duzi to Glamoc

Lt. Antonio Ruiz González
First published in
SFOR Informer#143, July 18, 2002

Last month members from the Multinational Control Sites Unit (MCSU) of MND-SE performed their usual inspections in an ammunition depot belonging to the 30th Logistic Headquarters of the Republika Srpska Army (VRS) in Duzi. The MCSU found several aviation bombs stored in poor condition that pose a danger when stored with other explosives.

Glamoc - There were five bombs, FAB 250 M79, with a weight of 250 kilograms and 32 model FAB 100 M80, with a weight of 100 kilograms. After the discovery, the paperwork began. MND-SE gave the task of destroying the artefacts to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team of the division. Like the division engineers of the unit, the EOD team is Spanish; however there were other units involved as well. The first step was to organise a convoy for the bombs, and another one for people and equipment.

The convoy
The Circulation Control Unit (CCU) escorted the convoy to Glamoc. They started the trip from Duzi to Mostar where personnel and equipment rested the first day. Meanwhile, other people of the EOD team and a ditch digger vehicle from the engineer unit left Mostar for Glamoc Range to look for the best place on the field to do the job. The second day the group travelled from Mostar to Resolute Barbara Range in Glamoc. A medical team from MND-SE also accompanied the convoy with the bombs travelling on lorries stored on secured pallets, to make sure there was no risk for anybody.

In the field
While the bombs travelled from Mostar, part of the EOD team with the ditch digger arrived at the range. They looked for the best place on the field to perform the destruction. Sgt. Enrique Arcas Checa, EOD team, underlined: "We are looking for a place that allows us to make the holes we need with enough separation between them." They also required good terrain without any large stones that could fall out due to the explosion. The ditch digger made several holes one meter wide, two meters long and two meters in deep. Holes were dug in circles around a central way as an entrance for the lorries. "That will be the point of destruction or point zero, it means the point where the bombs will be blown up," explained Arcas.
More than 300 metres away from that point they made a trench from where a couple of men will initiate the explosions. It is called the point of ignition. "There is no natural obstacle over here, so we had to build a secure place from where we were able to initiate the fire," he said.

The labour
Once the convoy arrived there was more work to do and more people to do it. The EOD team leader was 1st Lt. Paloma Fajardo Martinez. "We will have several teams working on security, which is our first priority. One of the teams will isolate the whole area to ensure that no people get into the zone. Also, a radio operator squad will be in contact with Resolute Barbara Range commanding office to get permission at any time for explosions," she said. Fajardo is the only female officer within the Spanish Army with such a qualification. They also had another place one and a half kilometres away from point zero, where the medical team and other people not directly involved with the blast will stay.
"Explosions will be carried out by electrical devices. There is an electrical line from zero zone to the point of ignition where Staff Sgt. Perez and Sgt. Arcas will remain secured on every blow-up," explained Fajardo.
There were two different artefacts. The three bombs weighing 250 kilograms each were destroyed one by one, and the others, weighing 100 kilograms, were blown up in groups of three.
Bombs were downloaded from the lorries at point zero and carefully introduced into the pit. Staff Sgt. Agustin Perez Galve, EOD team deputy leader, explained the process: "We are placing the bombs on a layer of soft earth, to avoid throwing forward of stones. We place two bombs and the other one on the top in a pyramidal figure to help the explosion," said Perez. "We attach into the bomb plastic explosive, which is prepared by Cpl. Fernandez."
Cpl. Carlos Fernandez Martin is another member of the team. "I am in charge of the explosive. We are using PG2, which is a plastic explosive. I knead a roll with it to be introduced into the bombs by Staff Sgt. Perez," he said.

Big bang
After that process, the excavator covered the pit, and then personnel and equipment went back to the secure area, except Perez and Arcas. They had to check the electrical line between point zero and the trench. No one was as close to the explosion as they were. Covered with wood and earth, they attached the wire to the ignition device and requested permission from Fajardo, which did the same from Resolute Barbara Range commanding office.
Once everybody was ready and covered, Arcas announced over his radio, "attention, fire within 30 seconds". A big bang was heard and a black cloud could be seen from the secured area.
Thirty minutes later all was checked. "All right, no problem at all. Let us proceed with the next one," said Fajardo calmly.
More than 4,400 kilograms of aviation bombs vanished in heat and smoke on those days in Resolute Barbara Range in Glamoc. There is now one less danger for the inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Spain
SFOR at Work

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Photos: PO Susan Rose

Some of the men take down the bombs with special ribbons to their partners.

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A team prepares to take down one of the bombs.

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Staff Sgt. Agustín Perez Galve carefully kneads the plastic explosive before it is placed into the bombs.

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Sgt. Enrique Arcas Checa and Cpl. Mimun Ismael take the delicate load with their hands.

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A few bombs lie on the ground waiting for their final moment in the depth hole.

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Efforts can be seen in the faces of Sgt. Enrique Arcas Checa and Cpl. Mimun Ismael.