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Stewart unit provides counter IED cover
In addition to securing the compound and vehicles, the 731st OD CO (EOD) team also secured the landing zone for the safe arrival and departure of the ISAF members. - photo by Photo by Erica Foucha

CAMP PHOENIX, Afghanistan – The 731st Ordnance Company (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) team traveled from Camp Phoenix to the eastern border of Wardak province to provide counterimprovised explosive device support for a meeting between International Security Assistance Force and Afghan government officials April 20, 2013.

“Our part in today’s mission is to ensure the location is secure from a C-IED standpoint for those present here today, primarily the ISAF personnel ,” said Spc. Michael Pohina. “The Phoenix Quick Reaction Force [QRF] brings a military police K-9, but EOD expertise is still needed to guarantee maximum security.”

Although the Turkish military forces are battle space owners of Regional Command-Capital, Team 1-1 from 731st OD Company (EOD), the only U.S. EOD team in the region, has full responsibility for all American security sweeps.

As the withdrawal date for NATO forces continues to approach, Combined Joint Task Force Paladin’s mission continues to center around enhancing the C-IED capabilities of Afghan National Security Forces through partnership and training. However, missions like the one conducted today are just as important to the future success of Afghanistan.

“We view this mission as directly contributing to building not only a stronger partnership between the U.S. and Afghan governments, but also helping to build a stronger, more independent Afghanistan,” said Pfc. Peter Lewis. “Not everyone is lucky enough to see firsthand how they are contributing to Operation Enduring Freedom so we’re thankful for this opportunity and we’re proud to provide assistance.”

As part of the QRF convoy, the EOD vehicle is fully stocked with everything needed to detect and defeat an IED, from bomb-disposal robots to a blast-resistant suit to blocks of composition C-4. Specialized search dog Rakker, the only military working dog stationed at Camp Phoenix, and his handler do an initial sweep of the compound and the vehicles that transport the working party, and then the EOD team gives the 100 percent security green light.

“If we were to locate a device, and if there is enough time to interrogate and render the location safe, the meeting would still take place,” said Pohina. “Being here alone shows great determination and sustainability from both governments, but finding and eliminating a device here would mean we’re all standing in the face of terrorism and show our resiliency to the insurgents.”

Although this is the fifth meeting the Phoenix QRF has supported, it is the first time the 731st OD Company (EOD), who deployed to theater last month from Fort Stewart, Ga., has had the opportunity to provide this security.

“The redeploying EOD team briefed us pretty well on what to expect on these missions,” said Lewis. “We know that without EOD support, these meetings could not take place and we look forward to continuing to work together with the QRF on future operations.”
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