FORT BRAGG, North Carolina – The 18th Ordnance Company (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) returned home to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Nov. 30, after serving as the sole EOD company in Iraq for six months.
The company deployed to Iraq with nine EOD teams and the full headquarters element to support Special Operations Joint Task Force-Levant.
EOD Soldiers from the 18th EOD Company “Voodoo” are part of the 192nd EOD Battalion, 52nd EOD Group and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. Department of Defense’s premier all hazards formation.
Soldiers and civilians from the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-headquartered 20th CBRNE Command deploy from 19 bases in 16 states to confront and defeat the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations.
Capt. David B. Winne, the commander of the 18th EOD Company, said his EOD Soldiers were responsible for training partner forces, supporting Special Operations Forces and protecting U.S. and coalition forces from explosives.
Winne said one of the biggest challenges was being fragmented across seven different locations around Iraq. The company also dispatched an EOD team to Qatar to provide security and support during the evacuation of Afghan civilians. The EOD Soldiers helped to enroll thousands of Afghans for flights.
“The 18th attacked a multitude of vastly diverse lines of effort at the team level,” said Winne. “By instituting decentralized command before we ever deployed and enabling decision making at the lowest level throughout the company, team leaders took ownership of their area of responsibility and their specific line of effort that resulted in mission success.”
Completing almost 600 missions in Iraq, the company focused primarily on partner force development while also supporting Special Operations Forces and defeating a wide variety of different explosive threats.
“The 18th EOD Company responded to indirect fire from various types of rockets, improvised explosive devices and one-way attack explosive drones threatening U.S. and coalition forces,” said Winne, a seven-year U.S. Army veteran from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who previously deployed to Afghanistan.
Winne said the enemy utilized fixed wing and rotary wing Unmanned Aerial Systems to target U.S. and coalition forces during the deployment.
“We found ourselves at essentially the tip of the spear when it came to response to enemy Unmanned Aerial System attacks and were first responders to many of these engagements,” said Winne. “We were able to develop a better understanding of this emerging threat and more importantly how to safely mitigate and dispose of the explosive hazard.”
Helping to better inform allies about one-way attack drones, the 18th EOD Company Soldiers shared their lessons learned with U.S. and coalition forces.
Winne said his EOD Soldiers forged strong partnerships with their allied military counterparts in Iraq, including allies from Denmark, Spain, Norway, France and the United Kingdom.
“While conducting demolition ranges, the 18th would often invite these allied partner EOD forces to participate and share demolition techniques and tips,” said Winne. “Many of the Soldiers from the 18th developed and fostered some incredible relationships and friendships that will last well beyond just deployment.”