HOHENFELS, Germany - Grafenwoehr, Germany 702nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Soldiers along with EOD teams from Latvia, Moldova and Kosovo conducted mission rehearsal exercises at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, June 24, 2019.
Task Force EOD officer-in-charge, 2nd Lt. Kevin Ray, says the role of 702nd EOD in Kosovo during the KFOR 26 rotation is participating in the coordination of EOD responses in Multinational Battle Group East. EOD protects personnel and property, by enabling a safe and secure environment and creating freedom of movement for the people.
In some cases, the U.S. may take a primary position in the response to items found within a certain distance of the administrative boundary line. In other situations, Kosovo's EOD may take the lead or operate independently.
Ray says that joint training exercises allow troops to fine-tune techniques and ultimately make everyone on the battlefield safer by expanding each-others' knowledge.
"In joint exercises, the main value we get is to learn from them, and they get to learn from us," Ray said. "There's a different way to do everything."
EOD teams went through exercises showing different scenarios including: finding unexploded ordnance with detection equipment, as well as controlling robots through various obstacles such as climbing stairs and opening doors.
Ray says he enjoys working with the other countries EOD assets, especially due to the different equipment and knowledge the Moldovans, Latvians and the Kosovans bring to the mission.
"I think one of the coolest parts about EOD is the brotherhood," Ray said. "We have a mutual understanding and a mutual respect for each other that is rare and something I've really come to appreciate."
JMRC Raptor Team, SFC Randon Sander says identifying strengths and weakness early in team and country integration is important to mission success.
"Some of our equipment is going to be different and some of our capabilities are different," Sander said. "The sooner we can recognize what those differences are, the sooner we can develop a plan to overcome them."
In joint operation missions, Sander says it's critical to work hand-in-hand with the local forces to gain knowledge of the culture and work together to accomplish the mission.