American Soldiers host Bosnian EOD technicians
Capt. David Watkins (left), commander of the 55th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, talks with Bosnian Army Capt. Aleksandar Atelj (center) and Staff Sgt. Arnes Hodzic, during their visit to the United States.

FORT BELVOIR, Va. (June 30, 2014) -- When the war in Bosnia ended in 1995, it was one of the most heavily mined countries on Earth.

Almost 20 years later, Bosnian Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal, or EOD, technicians are visiting U.S. Army EOD technicians in the United States.

"Bosnia has a unique EOD challenge," said Capt. David Watkins, commander of the 55th EOD Company, based at Fort Belvoir. "The country is heavily mined with both anti-personnel and anti-tank landmines. Recently, heavy flooding has proposed an even more complex problem as minefields are shifting to unmarked areas."

Watkins said the Bosnian Army EOD visit is part of the State Partnership Program, and Soldiers with the 32nd Civil Support Team went to Bosnia, in April.

During their visit here, the Bosnian EOD troops will observe a joint and interagency exercise, hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The 55th EOD company commander added that the Bosnian Army is preparing to conduct new missions.

"The Bosnian Army is looking to do a mission shift from strictly homeland defense to more of a civil support role for emergencies," said Watkins, an Atlanta native who served in Afghanistan.

"These (military-to-military) swaps give American and Bosnian Soldiers the chance to train together and refine best practices for ensuring the safety of the public," said Watkins.

Part of the 20th CBRNE Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives), the 55th EOD Company provides EOD support to the national capital region and the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

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With specialized units serving on 19 military installations in 16 states, the 20th CBRNE Command is the U.S. Army's only formation tasked to combat Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive threats.

Page last updated Mon June 30th, 2014 at 00:00