HomeAbout UsBrowse This IssueBack IssuesNews DispatchesSubscribing to Army LogisticianWriting for Army LogisticianContact UsLinks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Bomb Squads and EOD Personnel: Interoperability for Homeland Defense

The Army has long trained civilian law enforcement bomb squads, but a Navy-run school trains military explosive ordnance disposal personnel. This division of labor must be bridged so civilian and military personnel are ready to work as joint teams.

Since 1971, Army personnel have trained the technicians of civilian public safety bomb squads (PSBSs) at the Hazardous Devices School (HDS) at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. HDS, which is operated by the Army Ordnance Munitions and Electronic Maintenance School, offers training in render-safe and disposal procedures for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other hazardous materials to selected law enforcement and public safety officers. HDS is actually a joint Army and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) enterprise. Army personnel conduct the training, and the FBI reimburses the Army for those personnel, funds HDS courses, and has administrative control over student selections.

(Photo by Phan Mandy McLaurin, USN)

However, over the years a division has developed between PSBS personnel and the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) personnel. This division has increased as more police departments have improved the capabilities of their bomb squads, which has reduced their reliance on DOD personnel for EOD support. During the 1980s and 1990s, as PSBS use grew and DOD EOD support to state and local governments waned, both sides began to see less and less of each other, especially in training and interagency operations, so the divide grew larger.

A primary reason for this division is that military and civilian bomb technicians have different certification procedures. During the 1990s, the newly formed National Bomb Squad Commanders Advisory Board ratified certification requirements for civilian bomb technicians and accreditation standards for civilian bomb squads. The FBI certifies PSBS personnel through HDS. This FBI certification has become the primary mechanism for ensuring that civilian personnel are trained to HDS standards. These standards are derived from military EOD operations lessons learned and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP). However, DOD EOD personnel are not certified through HDS but through graduation from the Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal (NAVSCOLEOD) at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

Many PSBS personnel believe that, while DOD EOD personnel know quite a bit about military ordnance, they know less about IEDs than PSBS personnel. This is a faulty assumption, but it has persisted for many years. It exists, at least in part, because neither side totally understands the training provided by their respective schools, HDS and NAVSCOLEOD.

The gap between PSBS and DOD EOD training needs to be bridged. The security needs of the Nation require military and civilian bomb technicians who can work together. I believe the way to achieve this capability is by establishing a PSBS-DOD EOD interoperability course.

Growing Need for Interoperability

Over the last 20 to 30 years, DOD EOD personnel have provided military assistance to civil authorities on numerous occasions to remove abandoned ordnance items and IEDs. Hurricane Katrina operations demonstrated that DOD also plays a significant role in managing the consequences of natural and manmade disasters. DOD Directive 5525.5, DOD Cooperation with Civilian Law Enforcement Officials; DOD Directive 3025.12, Military Assistance for Civil Disturbances; the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S. Code 5121); and Executive Orders 12690 and 12804 all provide for the use of U.S. troops within the borders of the United States. DOD support and assistance to civil authorities is a fact of life in our post 9/11 world.

At the same time that DOD involvement in civil affairs is expanding, DOD’s EOD expertise is growing, largely because of the demands of current combat operations. DOD EOD personnel have encountered large numbers and different types of IEDs in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, and they undoubtedly are the best at what they do. However, their lessons learned and TTP, while known and discussed by their PSBS brethren, are not being fully exploited. Much of DOD’s expertise resides in the 20th Support Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High Yield Explosives [CBRNE]) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. This command—a component of the Army Forces Command—was designated to form the Joint Task Force for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Elimination in 2006 and now owns all Army EOD and technical escort assets in the continental United States and provides that support to all combatant commanders worldwide, including the U.S. Northern Command. While instructors at HDS have incorporated much of what the Army has learned in Iraq and Afghanistan into their training, it is not the same as having DOD EOD personnel working side by side with their PSBS counterparts.

The 9/11 Commission Report cited “a lack of coordination among First Responder Agencies.” I submit that suicide bombers and conventional and CBRNE IEDs will increase and eventually will come to U.S. soil. As a country at war, the United States must use all of its assets to combat these threats. DOD has a mission to provide support to civil authorities. IEDs do not recognize city or state lines, and an IED capable of killing could be found in any town in the country. Assuming that such an attack will occur only in New York City or Los Angeles is shortsighted.

As a result of the threat, DOD EOD personnel provide support to many communities that do not have PSBSs. However, DOD EOD and PSBS integration and sustainment training is lacking. No formal or informal training facility, curriculum, or TTP exist for interagency PSBS and DOD EOD operations and support. No one in the country is providing this training, even though world events dictate the need.

The existing training for bomb technicians is insufficient to support the more than 400 PSBS personnel and the more than 4,000 Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force EOD personnel nationwide. Local DOD EOD assets are not being fully employed to support local PSBSs during responses to unusual, terrorist, and CBRNE devices. DOD’s range of capabilities and assets is not being used fully during domestic crisis response preparations and operations.

Growing Need for Interoperability

Over the last 20 to 30 years, DOD EOD personnel have provided military assistance to civil authorities on numerous occasions to remove abandoned ordnance items and IEDs. Hurricane Katrina operations demonstrated that DOD also plays a significant role in managing the consequences of natural and manmade disasters. DOD Directive 5525.5, DOD Cooperation with Civilian Law Enforcement Officials; DOD Directive 3025.12, Military Assistance for Civil Disturbances; the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S. Code 5121); and Executive Orders 12690 and 12804 all provide for the use of U.S. troops within the borders of the United States. DOD support and assistance to civil authorities is a fact of life in our post 9/11 world.

At the same time that DOD involvement in civil affairs is expanding, DOD’s EOD expertise is growing, largely because of the demands of current combat operations. DOD EOD personnel have encountered large numbers and different types of IEDs in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, and they undoubtedly are the best at what they do. However, their lessons learned and TTP, while known and discussed by their PSBS brethren, are not being fully exploited. Much of DOD’s expertise resides in the 20th Support Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High Yield Explosives [CBRNE]) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. This command—a component of the Army Forces Command—was designated to form the Joint Task Force for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Elimination in 2006 and now owns all Army EOD and technical escort assets in the continental United States and provides that support to all combatant commanders worldwide, including the U.S. Northern Command. While instructors at HDS have incorporated much of what the Army has learned in Iraq and Afghanistan into their training, it is not the same as having DOD EOD personnel working side by side with their PSBS counterparts.

The 9/11 Commission Report cited “a lack of coordination among First Responder Agencies.” I submit that suicide bombers and conventional and CBRNE IEDs will increase and eventually will come to U.S. soil. As a country at war, the United States must use all of its assets to combat these threats. DOD has a mission to provide support to civil authorities. IEDs do not recognize city or state lines, and an IED capable of killing could be found in any town in the country. Assuming that such an attack will occur only in New York City or Los Angeles is shortsighted.

As a result of the threat, DOD EOD personnel provide support to many communities that do not have PSBSs. However, DOD EOD and PSBS integration and sustainment training is lacking. No formal or informal training facility, curriculum, or TTP exist for interagency PSBS and DOD EOD operations and support. No one in the country is providing this training, even though world events dictate the need.

The existing training for bomb technicians is insufficient to support the more than 400 PSBS personnel and the more than 4,000 Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force EOD personnel nationwide. Local DOD EOD assets are not being fully employed to support local PSBSs during responses to unusual, terrorist, and CBRNE devices. DOD’s range of capabilities and assets is not being used fully during domestic crisis response preparations and operations.

Current Training Program

PSBS personnel attend the 6-week Hazardous Devices Basic Course at HDS. All students must be hazardous materials qualified to attend. In week 1, they receive instruction on the personal protective equipment bomb suit, SRS–5 flak jacket and helmet, WMD and WMD dispersal devices, downrange considerations in incident management, basic direct-current electricity, mechanical-action fuzing, electrical-action fuzing, bomb threat searches, conventional explosives, improvised explosives, and military ordnance.

During the second week, 3 days are devoted to demolition training and to storage and transport of explosives, 1 day to post-blast investigations and domestic bombings, and 1 day to x-ray equipment. Week 3 features 2 days of practical exercises in x-ray and disrupter training, a 1-day practical exercise in rigging using hook-and-line equipment, a 1-day practical exercise using water bottles, hydra-jets, and disrupter shots, and 1 day devoted to shape charges, Tupperware bowl shots, and Bootbangers.

In week 4, 1 day focuses on hand entry, 1 day on logic tree and situation analysis, and render-safe procedures, and 3 days on a practical exercise of responding to IEDs with tools and equipment. Week 5 includes 2 days of evaluation on IED response with tools and equipment, 2 days for a round-robin practical exercise on booby traps, methamphetamine labs, and WMD devices, and 1 day of introduction to robotics. Week 6 then concentrates on robotics.

Graduates return after 3 years for recertification. The Hazardous Devices Recertification Course lasts 5 days. The first day consists of practical testing in explosives use and construction of electronic firing systems. The next 3 days include practical exercises on responding to typical IEDs found in the United States, a suicide bomber event, and a chemical WMD event. The last day features a written exam and a briefing on threats, new equipment, and trends.

In fiscal years 2006 and 2007, PSBS personnel from 20 high-threat cities received 2 weeks of training on electronic countermeasures procedures and equipment. This training should increase in fiscal year 2008.

Proposed Training Program

I believe that a pilot training course for DOD EOD and PSBS technicians should be established to teach common skills and techniques and provide interoperability in support of homeland defense. Such a PSBS–DOD EOD interoperability course would—

  • Increase nationwide response interoperability at minimal cost while using assets currently in place.
  • Improve multi-agency response by sharing common training.
  • Improve multi-agency cooperation.

The proposed training course should be 10 days in length. The first week, Phase 1, would train DOD EOD personnel on TTP taught in the 6-week PSBS basic course. This could include electronic countermeasures and robotics.

The second week, Phase II, would recertify PSBS personnel and qualify DOD EOD personnel on joint interoperability procedures and response in support of homeland defense, homeland security, and military assistance to civil authorities (in accordance with National Bomb Squad Commanders Advisory Board standards). The first week (Phase I) would bring DOD EOD personnel up to speed on PSBS TTP and curriculum. The second week (Phase II) would bring PSBS and DOD EOD personnel together for combined operations.

Each student would operate as a team leader 3 times and observe 12 total incidents during the course of training. I believe we could conduct 35 classes and produce a total of 288 DOD and 528 PSBS graduates. Students would be certified through DOD or PSBS, but each would be qualified and trained for joint response in support of homeland defense.

(Photo courtesy of the 20th Support Command)

Advantages of the Concept

Since PSBS and DOD EOD personnel currently have no formal training in joint interoperability, response, or TTP, any such training that occurs depends on the initiative of individual organizations and people. While this informal training is helpful, it is not adequate to provide a cohesive, combined joint approach by both PSBSs and DOD for dealing with the potential threat to the homeland.

Hurricane Katrina highlighted that DOD can and will assist local and state governments in responding to natural disasters. According to the DOD Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support, released in June 2005, DOD should participate in homeland defense efforts in order to—

Improve national and international capabilities for homeland defense and homeland security: The broad range of threats posed by terrorists and other transnational actors has expanded our traditional concept of national security. . . . State, local, and tribal authorities, the private sector, and our allies and friends abroad are also critical contributors to US national security.

In such an environment, DOD must unify its efforts with those of its key interagency partners and international friends and allies to ensure the nation’s security. The Department will promote the integration and sharing of applicable DOD capabilities, equipment, and technologies with Federal, state, local, and tribal authorities and the private sector. Sharing technology, capabilities, and expertise strengthens the nation’s ability to respond to hostile threats and domestic emergencies. Likewise, cooperative homeland defense education and training initiatives will help partners build capacity for homeland defense and will foster a common understanding of shared threats and how best to address them. In turn, DOD can readily leverage the expertise of other Federal, state, local, and tribal authorities and international partners to improve its own capabilities for counterterrorism, maritime interception, and other missions critical to an active, layered defense.

As set forth in the National Defense Strategy of 2005, DOD is transforming its approach to homeland defense just as it transforms national defense capabilities overall. Guiding homeland defense planning is the concept of an active, layered defense, predicated on seizing the initiative from our adversaries.

As cited in the DOD Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support, DOD not only wants to share expertise within DOD but also to leverage expertise within other Federal, state, local, and tribal authorities to ensure that, as a country, we have the best, most active, layered defense possible. Just as we have mutual response by DOD fire departments to assist local fire departments, a similar mechanism is needed for CBRNE events that will require both PSBS and DOD EOD expertise within the United States. DOD fire departments train and exercise these capabilities, but PSBSs and DOD EOD personnel do not.

(Photo by Corporal James P. McLaughlin, USMC)

Our PSBSs have some of the finest bomb technicians in the world. DOD EOD personnel similarly are superb, having encountered more IEDs than any other bomb technicians in the world, including those in Israel. Following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, we can no longer allow the knowledge and expertise of PSBSs and DOD EOD to be stovepiped.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) personnel are working side by side with DOD EOD personnel in the Combined Explosive Exploitation Cell in the fight against IEDs. This cell has proven to be an excellent means of developing interoperability and exchanging information in the Global War on Terrorism. There is no reason why this same cooperative attitude should not be adopted for homeland defense.

The use of electronic countermeasures and lessons learned in both Iraq and Afghanistan are being injected into the curriculum of HDS. However, we should go a step further: PSBS and DOD EOD personnel should train and operate in joint teams to further enhance the unity of effort of our explosive ordnance first responders. I believe the program outlined in this article will provide that opportunity.
ALOG

Colonel Dick A. Larry is chief of the IED Defeat Division, Army Asymmetric Warfare Office, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G–3/5/7, Department of the Army. He is a graduate of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, the Army Command and General Staff College, and the Naval War College. He holds a B.S. degree in public administration from Northern Arizona University and a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.