CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti -- Sailors from Detachment 20 of the U.S. Navy's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Eight here participated in a training exercise here July 1 with French Naval Assault Commando’s to give both the EOD technicians and commando’s the opportunity to learn from each other and develop a partnership.
The exercise focused primarily on rescuing a hostage kept in a building heavily rigged with improvised explosive devices. The commando’s from units Commando de Monfort, Commando Penfrentenyo, and Commando Trepel served as the assaulting element, fast roping on top of the building from French Puma helicopters. Navy EOD followed, providing bomb and booby-trap disposal support as well as security.
According to Chief Petty Officer Bill E. Fancher, leading chief petty officer, EOD detachment 20, both the French and the EOD detachment have worked together, training on subjects including demolitions, small arms weapons, IED’s, and close quarters battle training.
“The French don’t have EOD and IED scenarios in their training,” said Seattle native Petty Office 2nd Class Shawn P. Forbes, EOD technician, EOD detachment 20. “We’re trying to incorporate EOD training with them.”
During the course of the exercise, the French and EOD technicians disabled various booby-traps during the room clearing aspect. Upon reaching the first floor, the commandos and technicians were confronted with the training hostage who in his hands held a training bomb. His hands were taped to the bomb, which held the firing devices. If his hands were to slip off or pulled away, the bomb would simulate a detonation with a loud buzzing sound.
After deactivating the bomb, both the French commando’s and EOD technicians made a hasty but organized departure from the building and ended the exercise.
At the completion of the training, regardless of language barriers, both parties came together and discussed the events, what was seen and what might have been improved.
According to Petty Officer 1st Class Lance D. Landers, EOD technician, detachment 20, the missions are very real with both hostage situations and IED’s present in Iraq. “The French were really good,” added the Ashville, N.C., native.