Passing on the EOD mission in Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sean D. Smith
  • Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs
The Air Force explosive ordnance disposal mission isn't over in Afghanistan, even as Air Force personnel withdraw. Insurgents are still active, and improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordnance remain an immediate threat to people living in contested territory.

American EOD specialists have been training Afghani forces for years to prepare them for the drawdown, and 5th Bomb Wing EOD team member Senior Airman Andrew Glynn has assisted in those efforts personally.

Glynn returned with the last of the Air Force EOD to pull out of Afghanistan, but not before making sure that the EOD mission was in good hands. He worked directly with the Afghani National Police EOD in Kandahar, helping them not only with EOD expertise, but in building the infrastructure necessary for the local forces to get the materials they need to complete the mission, like equipment and explosives.

"The captain of the ANP unit I was working with had a ton of experience, but he had no real secondary leadership," Glynn said. "He was the only guy handling these IEDs. If something happened to him, the unit was left with nothing."

Glynn and his unit built a program to improve the process.

"We basically set up a school for them, to train more police for EOD work," Glynn said. "You have to have EOD guys teaching EOD guys. Their lives are on the line, so they have to learn the material correctly."

Knowledge and training was only half the battle. Equipment is also key to mission success, Glynn explained.

"We had to get them the school, and we had to get them supplies," he said. "That was the hard part."

5th BW EOD Flight Chief MSgt. John McCoy said that Afghan logistics can pose a major challenge to units who are heavily reliant on equipment. Issues with the flow of supplies can mean mission stoppage. In the EOD world, that can translate to lives lost, which places the importance of equipment on par with that of training.

The ultimate goal was to build a solid enough infrastructure for both training and materials that the ANP EOD personnel could be self-sustaining after American forces withdrew from Afghanistan. The key was quality training and making sure the channels were open for ANP to get the materials they needed to do the job.

"We were successful in setting up everything we went there to set up," Glynn said. "It's up to them now."