U.S. Army Europe explosive ordnance team spends four weeks training with Albanian counterparts

By U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs
Oct. 14, 2010

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany Several Soldiers from the 702nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company recently deployed to training areas in the mountains east of the Albanian capital of Tirana to train Albanian EOD teams on international standards and techniques for explosive ordnance disposal.

“We dispose of our unexploded ordnance in a range in the middle of the woods. Personally, I would vacation where the Albanians dispose of their ordnance,” said Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Daniels, a 702nd EOD senior team leader.

The 702nd EOD team began the four-week training session with the Albanians in mid-August. The first two weeks were classroom training on standard practices, follwed by two weeks of practical training with live ordnance. Field work consisted of five or six training detonations a day, with a net explosive weight of 250 kilograms.

“As EOD technicians, the Albanian Soldiers had a relaxed attitude toward their UXO (unexploded ordnance), but took to our training style very quickly. Afterwards their attitudes regarding safety procedures and UXO were greatly improved,” said Sgt. John Bechthold, also a 702nd EOD senior team member.

“Historically, the U.S. armed forces are far more safety conscious about their UXO procedures because of all the lessons they have learned throughout the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The procedures on engaging ordnance 'downrange' change almost monthly due to the ever-adapting enemy,” said Bechthold.

The Albanian troops seemed eager to work with the 702nd, proved they knew what they were doing, and even provided new techniques, procedures and ways of looking at solutions to problems, the 702nd trainers said.

“As far as demolition went, they have a great system in place and are as proficient as we are,” said Daniels.

“I had a great time teaching the Albanian EOD guys new safety tactics and procedures, which also allowed them to use their own procedures. It was an amazing training exercise and a great opportunity to increase international relations,” said 702nd EOD team member Sgt. Jeremy Rininger.

The 702nd is part of the 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion of U.S. Army Europe's 21st Theater Sustainment Command.