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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

U.S., Filipino bomb experts dispose unused ordnance

By Bong Garcia, Sun Star

THE anti-explosive experts from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) joined forces to dispose the more than 2,000 pounds of unexploded ordnance that reached potentially hazardous levels, U.S. and Filipino military officials said Monday.

The Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians from the 3rd EOD detachment from Camp General Arturo Enrile worked earlier this month with the Naval Special Operations Unit (NAVSOU) sixth EOD technicians from Zamboanga in the Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte and disposed the unexploded ordnance.

During the day-long event, Sailors from Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) provided technical support and subject matter expertise.

"We have a good working relationship with our counterparts in NAVSOU EOD," Major Michael Duquez, commanding officer of 3rd EOD Detachment, said.

"When we conduct an operation near the area of water, we coordinate with them and if they have an activity on the ground they coordinate with us to accomplish the mission safely," Duquez added.

The disposal operation removed a significant portion of potentially hazardous ordnance items that had been stockpiled.

The total amount of ordnance destroyed included more than 1,500 60-mm mortars, 81-mm mortars and 105-mm projectiles.

An additional large number of miscellaneous items including fuses and grenades were also destroyed.

"Basically, the longer they keep the ordnance stored inside their magazines, the more hazardous it becomes," said Lieutenant Joe Morgan, JSOTF-P EOD team leader.

"It's our job to help them destroy this ordnance," Morgan added.

He said the unexploded ordnances are common parts of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that have been used throughout the Mindanao and Sulu Archipelago.

This year alone, he noted that the AFP has recovered more than 30 IEDs throughout Mindanao.

Most recently, Abu-Sayyaf Group militants used IEDs during the attacks in Basilan on April 13.

The destruction of the unexploded ordnance and ammunitions prevent terrorists from getting the resources necessary for building IEDs.

"We now have the equipment to effectively address any IED threat on the island," Duquez said.

He said the disposal range site was specifically chosen because nearby village use the pulverized rock to repair the roads in the area.

He said a large amount of gravel created after the disposal the operation is now usable and immediately for road repairs during the upcoming wet season.

For the AFP and U.S. forces partnership, the training provided an opportunity for the EOD units.

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