Face of Defense: U.S. Soldiers Host Bosnian EOD Technicians
By Walter T. Ham IV
20th CBRNE Command
FORT BELVOIR, Va., June 27, 2014 When the war in Bosnia ended in 1995, it was one of the most heavily mined countries on Earth.
U.S. Army Capt. David Watkins, left, commander of the 55th Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Company, talks with Bosnian army soldiers Capt. Aleksandar Atelj, center, and Staff Sgt. Arnes Hodzic at Fort Belvoir in Virginia during the Bosnians’ visit to the United States. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Almost 20 years later, Bosnian army explosive ordnance disposal technicians are visiting U.S. Army EOD technicians in the United States.
"Bosnia has a unique EOD challenge," said Army Capt. David Watkins, commander of the 55th EOD Company based here. "The country is heavily mined with both anti-personnel and anti-tank landmines. Recently, heavy flooding has proposed an even more complex problem as minefields are shifting to unmarked areas."
Watkins said the Bosnian army EOD visit is part of the National Guard-managed State Partnership Program and an American team from the 32nd Civil Support Team traveled to Bosnia in April.
During their current visit to the U.S., the Bosnian EOD troops will observe Exercise Ravens Challenge, a joint and interagency exercise hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Bosnian army is preparing to conduct new missions, said Watkins, an Atlanta native who served in Afghanistan.
"The Bosnian army is looking to do a mission shift from strictly homeland defense to more of a civil support role for emergencies," he said.
"These [military to military] swaps give American and Bosnian soldiers the chance to train together and refine best practices for ensuring the safety of the public," Watkins added.
Part of the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the 55th EOD Company provides support to the national capital region and the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
With specialized units serving on 19 military installations in 16 states, the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-based 20th CBRNE Command is the U.S. Army's only formation tasked to combat chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats.