Explosive ordnance disposal specialists teach demolition basics
CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa, Japan -- The combination of wine bottles and high explosives is not typically associated with military training, but the Marines of 3rd Explosive Ordnance Company used the unlikely duo, among other training devices, to conduct realistic basic demolition training Feb. 8 at Camp Schwab.
During the range, the company, part of 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, trained with assorted shaped charges, common types of explosives and practiced demolition charge preparation.
“The Marines got to see the effects of different types of explosives, like C-4, dynamite, TNT and different shaped charges,” said Staff Sgt. Hart E. Holmberg, an explosive ordnance disposal specialist with the company. “Every tool has a job, and it is pairing the right tool to the right job that makes you successful. This training prepared the Marines to do that.”
The participants prepared and tested several charges against steel-plate armor approximately 1 1/2 inches thick during the training, along with preparing and detonating blocks of TNT, sticks of dynamite and improvised shaped charges.
Shaped charges use a specially shaped, explosive-filled cavity to focus the effect of the explosion. Marines employed commercial as well as improvised shaped charges made out of some of the same materials insurgents use, such as wine bottles and soda cans. The EOD specialists also demonstrated a water-jet shaped charge, which uses a shaped stream of water accelerated by C-4 to cut through steel-plate armor.
Three members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force were present for the training as part of the Japan Observer Exchange Program.
“I came here to study how III MEF conducts EOD, and it was very interesting to see how they used the different demo charges,” said 1st Lt. Takuya Tajiri, an engineer officer with 12th Brigade Headquarters, 12th Brigade, East Army. “It was the first time I have seen improvised charges like the wine-bottle shaped charge. It was very beneficial to observe the training.”
The training focused on the basics of demolition, providing the participants with a solid foundation for future training, including nonelectric detonation methods and preparing different knots to effectively use detonation cord as a means of initiating C-4, dynamite and TNT charges.
“Nonelectric blasting caps are the simplest to use, and training with them teaches Marines to do the math to calculate the time until detonation,” said Holmberg. “The knots are good to know for when you are limited on tools and equipment. You don’t always need the expensive tools — you can get the job done with the basics.”
The company’s Marines vary in military occupational specialty, from combat engineers to supply administration and operations specialists, with correspondingly varied levels of experience in demolitions.
“The EOD specialists put on some very good training, and I learned a lot of new things,” said Lance Cpl. Aaron J. Rene, a supply administration and operations specialist with 9th ESB. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for the EOD specialists who put their life on the line executing their job.”