By Lance Cpl. Alvin Pujols, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit
POHANG, SOUTH KOREA --
U.S. Marines with the explosive ordnance disposal teams of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit and 31st MEU swept Suseongri live-fire range to find, identify, approach, and then dispose of it in place or safely transport and dispose of it then during Exercise Ssang Yong 16 in Pohang, South Korea, Mar. 13, 2016.
Ssang Yong is a biennial combined amphibious exercise conducted by U.S. forces with the Republic of Korea Navy and Marine Corps, Australian Army and Royal New Zealand Army Forces in order to strengthen interoperability and working relationships across a wide range of military operations.
“Our original mission was to sweep the range of unexploded ordnance, so two infantry companies could safely maneuver the range without worry of UXOs,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Timothy Harrison, an officer in charge of the explosive ordnance disposal team with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. “Then we pushed further into an impact area to conduct training on identifying, transporting and disposing of foreign unexploded ordnance.”
The EOD technicians with 13th MEU were able to exercise their capabilities to locate, identify and safely dispose of foreign UXOs.
“We displayed our ability to go out and take foreign or U.S. unexploded ordnance, safely identify them, safely approach them, decide to transport it or decide it’s safe where it is and dispose of it where it’s at,” Harrison said.
The EOD technicians had to complete their sweep so two separate MEU battalion landing teams could conduct a live-fire range.
“We were clearing the training area of unexploded ordnance so that battalion landing team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment and 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment would be able to conduct a live-fire range as well as getting real world training on UXO clearance in case we run into it further down the road,” said Staff Sgt. Zachary Rubemeyer, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
With such a small community EOD technicians rarely come together in large groups, but Exercise Ssang Yong 16 created the opportunity.
“My most memorable experience during the training evolution was getting to work hand-in-hand with the other EOD technicians while seeing the difference in experiences and knowledge,” Rubemeyer said. “Very seldom do we have that many techs coming out to one range with one common goal. It’s a great opportunity to create relations with them.”
Altogether the Marines found more than 200 pounds of explosives and, in a series of controlled detonations, disposed of it properly to allow their battalion landing teams to begin their training safely.