DUSHANBE, Tajikistan — Explosive ordnance soldiers from Fort Hood were key players of the U.S. Army Central Command’s first International Mine Action Standard Explosive Ordnance Disposal level-one course among partnered nations of central Asia that concluded June 6.
U.S. Army Central Explosive Ordnance Disposal team led the 10-day training course, relying on Fort Hood EOD professionals from 752nd and 75th Ordnance Disposal Companies, 79th Ordnance Disposal Battalion, 71st Ordnance Group, to observe and assist.
The course was attended by 20 students from four countries. This is the first phase of a three-level train-the-trainer program in accordance with the humanitarian first International Mine Action Standard procedures.
“Over the past two weeks, we trained on ordnance identification, fuse functioning, explosive safeties, electric and nonelectric demolition procedures, reconnaissance and the management responsibilities necessary to clear unexploded ordnance, land mines, and explosive remnants of war,” said Lt. Col. Benjamin Lipari, Central Command’s EOD chief.
By the end of this three-level training program, five states in the region are expected to have certified EOD trainers and training materials consistent with international standards.
Those states can then take part in international peacekeeping operations.
“The EOD level-one and two programs will provide sustainable regional capacity,” Lipari said. “In September, we will conduct an EOD level-one program for Tajik and Afghan students, and in October we hope to retain and advance the program to the EOD level-two standards.”
Although a date has not been set, Central Command is planning to train key aspects of EOD level-three in the future, while advising and assisting the Tajikistan Ministry of Defense’s effort to build a long-term Explosive Hazards Training Center, Lipari said. He believes Tajikistan will continue to rise as a regional leader in humanitarian mine action.
Since 1992, 367 people here were killed by land mines and 841 were injured, according to the Tajikistan Mine Action Center. The mine contamination along the boarders and central region of Tajikistan is a result of Russian forces placing them on the Tajik-Afghan border between 1992 and 1998 in an attempt to protect the border from armed groups entering Tajikistan.
Land mines and explosive remnants of war were placed throughout the central region of Tajikistan during the 1992-1997 civil conflict.
Then, in 1999, Uzbekistan forces used mines along the Tajik-Uzbek border to protect from armed groups and bandits.
The Office for Military Cooperation of the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe is pushing for cooperation across boarders to create regional security and mine disposal safety standards to benefit all countries in central Asia.
U.S. Army Central EOD team took charge of that mission through planning and executing this exercise.
“This course should provide stability and security for the region while maintaining cooperation among the participating countries,” said Mihail Semionov, Organization of Security Co-operation in Europe mine action officer.
“This is the first step toward building sustainable humanitarian mine action capacity within the Tajikistan Ministry of Defense,” Lipari said.