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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Unexploded ordnance poses danger;

By Cpl. Phuong Chau | | August 15, 2002

Soldiers from the Explosives Ordnance Disposal team at Fort Benning, Ga., educated Marines here Aug. 7 on some of the dangers they could stumble upon during combat.

Maj. Bryan Lucas, Headquarters Battalion commanding officer, invited Army Staff Sgt. Brian D. Curtis and Army Sgt. Jason D. Cox of the EOD to conduct a class on unexploded ordnance.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps has directed all Marines to be ready to deploy to a combat environment at any time due to current operational tempo, said Lucas. One of the dangers of being in a combat environment is unexploded ordnance.

"One or more of you may be deployed to 'Enduring Freedom' sometime in the near future," Lucas told MCLB Albany Marines. "Whether in Khandahar or wherever the operation takes us, as we move to the next phase [of the war on terrorism], more people are going to be called from bases and stations to support forward elements."

According to Lucas, one of the largest problems facing Marines was walking into a 20-year-old battlefield littered with mines and unexploded ordnance. The Soviet Union lost an estimated 10,000 troops during the 10-year war in the country. Remnants of large numbers of ordnance and mines remain to threaten the lives of others.

"More Americans were killed by unexploded ordnance, or UXOs in Desert Storm than by enemy gunfire," said Curtis.

One of the most important elements for Marines to survive the battlefield is being aware of what actions they should take.

The EOD specialists informed Marines of some of these precautionary measures and what to look out for.

The soldiers brought a variety of ordnance displays to show the Marines what some of these dangers look like.

According to Curtis, many battlefield injuries come from land mines, ammunition and other explosives that did not detonate during combat. Some of these explosives simply failed to explode. In reality a lot of explosives do not detonate and are now byproducts of war.

"If you saw that Blue 97 [explosive] and you didn't call it in, the next day two children could be dead," said Curtis.

UXOs have a variety of classifications, including, dropped (bombs and ammunition), projected (such as mortar missiles and rifle grenades), thrown grenades and placed landmines.

Curtis emphasized that being able to properly identify, respond to and report UXOs is important for a Marine's survival.

The first step is the proper identification of the hazard, said Curtis. The Marine has to find out whether an object is a UXO. If the object is suspect, calling for help is prudent course of action. After identifying the UXO, the Marine should determine if the hazard could be avoided.

For example, if the Marine can complete his mission by moving around the UXO, he should. But, if a forward-based camp is built around a UXO, the hazard could not be avoided.

If the hazard cannot be avoided, precautionary measures, such as evacuating to a distance of 300 meters are necessary. The Marine also needs to report the UXO using a nine-line spot report and continue his mission.

A nine-line spot report is the format for reporting spotted UXOs.

Curtis also spoke of the problem with service members in the field finding unexploded ordnance and taking it home with them.

Having a grenade sitting atop a desk may look cool, but the EOD specialist advised Marines not to do this because of the imposing danger.

After learning about UXOs, the Marines were invited to ask the EOD members questions and examine the ordnance on display.

For more information about unexploded ordnance, call Curtis at DSN 835-5372.