Sand and smoke filled the air as explosives specialists from the 8th Iraqi Army conducted a joint demolition with Soldiers from the 75th Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Company to dispose of a stockpile of munitions.

The cache was discovered by the 31st Iraqi Army Brigade in Babil, Iraq, Dec. 4, and included four large barrels containing two dozen 115-millimeter projectiles and 1,100 pounds of Dinitrotoluene, a common precursor in the manufacturing of TNT.

The 8th Iraqi Army used the detonation as a training opportunity between U.S. and Iraqi explosives specialists. Such joint training events have become common as coalition forces seek to protect the citizens of Iraq and thwart insurgent attempts to destabilize the region.

"I am very happy to work in a position that allows me to keep the people of Iraq safe and bring glory to the Iraqi people," said Capt. Imad Jassim, an explosives expert with the 8th Iraqi Army Bomb Disposal Company.

Operation New Dawn, beginning in September, signaled a new role for U.S. forces in Iraq. Units like the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, the parent unit of 75th EOD Company, now carry the primary mission of advising, training, and assisting Iraqi Security Forces. Much of this training does not occur in the classroom, but rather through live training opportunities such as these.

Explosives technicians from 75th EOD Company have established a unique working relationship with the 8th Iraqi Army BDC, and the Iraqi police counter explosives teams in the conduct of this dangerous training mission. A typical training day consists of basic demolition techniques, the use of bomb suits, robotics and remote door opening and detonation techniques.

"We are happy to conduct combined demolition operations with our Iraqi brothers," said Sgt. 1st Class Eric M. Raska, 3rd platoon sergeant of the 75th EOD. "The destruction of dangerous ordnance protects the citizens of Iraq from explosive hazards and provides an opportunity to build our relationship through joint demolition operations."

A billowing, black smoke cloud in the December sky put the exclamation point on another successful, high-stakes training event for this international group of explosives professionals.