SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) – Beyond the wire of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing spans an area covered not only in sand but potential explosive hazards, aging from as far back as the Gulf War fighting that took place here in the early 90s.
This time of year, the same area is inhabited by host-nation locals who follow a tradition of setting up camps, often with their families and livestock, during the winter months.
Airmen of the 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight are clearing the way for these local campers to enjoy the area in safety.
Working closely with the 386th Security Forces Squadron Viper teams, who patrol the expansive perimeter areas night and day and find hazards such as unexploded ordnance devices, or UXOs, 386th EOD flight members have safely destroyed almost 1,000 UXOs during their six-month rotation here.
The number of found UXOs has gone up significantly. Changes in Viper teams and the rapport they have built with EOD Airmen, as well as shifting weather conditions that help to uncover buried UXOs, have all contributed in the rise.
“There has been a good increase in the number of response calls since the last EOD rotation,” said Tech. Sgt. Pete McNally, 386th EOD craftsman deployed from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. “Most rotations do about 300 to 400 (UXO clearings), and we are up almost three times that between June and today.”
In response to Viper teams finding a concentrated number of UXOs within certain perimeter areas, EOD members set up two major outside-the-wire sweeps in October with the Royal Australian Army EOD members and Viper teams. They were able to clear six million square meters of land surrounding the base, finding sub-munitions identified as being out in the terrain for awhile.