An Explosive Partnership Between the Dutch EOD and 786th CES

Dutch EOD expertise in WWII UXO provides invaluable field experience for U.S. military partners

786th Civil Engineer Squadron’s EOD Flight prepares to demonstrate render-safe procedures frequently used on WWII unexploded ordnances during a EOD demo March, 5, 2021. Credit: Milton Hamilton

U.S. Air Force personnel in the 786th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight showcased their abilities during a munition detonation demonstration and EOD facility tour with Dutch EOD partners on March, 5, 2021 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

The event was part of an on-going cooperation with Dutch EOD forces working on WWII unexploded ordnance render-safe procedures during COVID-19.

“Our demonstration was to highlight our partnership with the Dutch EOD team and the mutual benefits of the partnership,” said Staff Sgt. Emilio Solis, 786th CES EOD quality assurance noncommissioned officer in charge.

“We have a program where we do ride-alongs with the Dutch EOD team and help them dispose of WWII live ordinances,” said Solis. “The partnership has really blossomed in the last few years, but we’ve been training together for over the past decade.”

The partnership with the Dutch provides the 786th CES’s EOD with hands-on experience and invaluable training that allows them to be prepared to deal with UXOs commonly found within the surrounding area of the Kaiserslautern Military Community.

“The Dutch are experts in WWII UXOs,” said Solis. “They’ve shown us the ins and outs of those types of ordinances and several details that may be overlooked when unfamiliar with those types of explosives.”

The joint-training provides a trade off between the U.S. and Dutch forces, with the 786th CES’s EOD Flight providing their counterparts with expertise and insight into improvised explosive devices.

786th CES, Dutch EOD have explosive partnership
U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Josh Olson, 86th Airlift Wing commander, and 86th AW Command Chief Master Sgt. Hope Skibitsky pose for a photo with Airmen assigned to the 786th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight during a EOD demonstration at Ramstein Air Base, March, 5, 2021. The 786th CES’s EOD Flight presented Olson with a gift to show appreciation for allowing them to train with Dutch EOD forces in the Netherlands. Photo: Milton Hamilton

“Our training and missions are best done in person,” said Solis.

For this reason, the team was authorized mission-related travel to the Netherlands to do live munitions disposals and recoveries.

“This helps us operate and garner knowledge to the extent we don’t get in the U.S. because of the lack of WWII ordinances in the states,” explained Solis.

Building this knowledge is valuable since the 786th CES’s EOD flight gets between four to six UXO calls a year in the KMC.

“I ran an operation in December 2020 where we disposed of a WWII UXO near Landstuhl Regional Medical Center,” said Solis. “I was able to identify what the ordinance was because of the training I received with the Dutch forces in the Netherlands. The joint-training we do allows us to be confident in our abilities when we have to dispose of WWII ordinances in the KMC area.”

“The Dutch EOD personnel deal with more than 30,000 WWII UXOs a year,” said Solis. “This partnership allows us to build a stronger relationship with a partner-nation and see things from different perspectives, which ultimately helps us grow, learn new ideas and be more equipped and effective at our jobs.”

Adapted from story by Senior Airman Milton Hamilton, 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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