Army EOD Soldiers from the Fort Knox, Kentucky-based 703rd EOD Company participated in a humanitarian mine action mission with Congolese disaster response forces in the Central African nation.
Staff Sgt. Kewan Lemmon, an EOD team leader and Afghanistan War veteran from Broward, Florida, and Spc. Dennis Laughead, an EOD technician from Brandenburg, Kentucky, represented the 703rd EOD Company in the Republic of Congo.
The 703rd EOD Company is part of the 184th EOD Battalion, 52nd EOD Group, 20th CBRNE Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives), the U.S. Defense Department’s only formation that combats CBRNE threats around the world.
Soldiers from 20th CBRNE Command routinely travel around the globe to conduct U.S. Department of State-sponsored humanitarian mine action training missions. In September 2014, Soldiers from the Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri-based 763rd EOD Company trained with Tajikistani and Afghan forces in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
Master Sgt. Richard L. Wasson, a senior EOD noncommissioned officer from U.S. Army Africa, said the EOD troops trained 10 members of the National Gendarmerie, Congolese Army and Congolese Police Department.
Wasson said the training is an on-going effort.
“The training conducted was the first of many designed to assist nations plagued by landmines and explosive remnants of war,” said Wasson, adding that the EOD Soldiers held classroom presentations, field training and individual instruction with Congolese EOD techs.
“The EOD team’s primary focus was ordnance identification and related safety issues,” said Wasson.
Wasson said explosive identification was important in Brazzaville following a catasrophic arms depot fire in 2012 that set off a series of explosions that killed hundreds, wounded thousands and smashed windows across a three-mile blast radius.
“The area is still to this day littered with unexploded ordnance as a result,” said Wasson.
A Spring Mills, Pennsylvania, native who served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait, Wasson said the Congolese EOD forces increased their level of ordnance identification proficiency to 93 percent during the training.
“The capabilities of the Congolese EOD forces to identify, reduce and educate the public of the explosive hazards remaining greatly increases the safety of the overall population of the region,” said Wasson.
Article courtesy of Walter Ham, 20th CBRNE Command, edited for context and length.