Large Scale Range Clearance  Not a Military EOD Responsibility

The responsibilities of range clearance have been argued for years within the military. Although EOD is certainly qualified to conduct range clearance operations and has at numerous ranges over the decades, EOD has generally maintained the stance that large scale range clearances are not one of their primary responsibilities. A series of memos from April and May 1943 found by a reader at the National Archives shows just exactly how far back this position has been voiced by EOD.

The series of memos from 1943 which can be downloaded using the link below, starts with a request from the Office of the Ordnance Officer at Fort Shaftner to the 232nd Ordnance Company (Bomb Disposal). The memo request that EOD conduct a range clearance on the artillery and bombing ranges and "place all recovered projectiles and fragments into drums". Col. Custis from the Bomb Disposal unit promptly fired back a response stating "the policing of ranges is specifically not; repeat not; a function of the Bombs Disposal Unit". Col Curtis' response further stated that range clearance is a function of the local range authorities and Unit Ordnance Officer.

In a final memo back from the Office of the Ordnance Officer, they concur with the response and acknowledges the highly technical nature of bomb disposal and their documented responsibilities which do not include range clearance activities as primary area of responsibility.

EOD is indeed a highly skilled profession which involves a constant evolution of study, training, and research. EOD's primary mission is to provide technical expertise to support combat operations. Throughout the years, EOD has not been staffed or funded to take on any large scale range clearance responsibilities. In general, this hold true today especially with the on-going conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan where EOD is extremely busy responding to and countering IED threats.

National Archives documents donated by Rick Stauber (Army EOD Retired).

Todd DeVoe's Gravatar Up until 1993, Navy EOD was leading monthly clearance operations at the multi-service bombing and test ranges at Kahoolawe, HI. During peace time, this proved to be outstanding experience for young and seasoned EOD technicians alike. We spent ten days of every month on the uninhabited island clearing UXO from the surface of ranges used since WWII.
During these range closures, we learned much about all different types of military ordnance and applied a multitude of disposal techniques in getting the job done. I feel fortunate to have spent the 13 trips out there during the early 90's until the mission was canceled and contracted for completion to civilian companies. I would otherwise never have came into contact of the literally thousands of UXO items to learn from.
It is correct that during this time of war, there is no time for these operations. The IED problem is definitely the mission of the modern EOD man and woman. But, don't discount the opportunity for experience on ranges such as this. I've too many times run into Master EOD technicians that have never worked on a piece of live fired ordnance that needed attention.
During peacetime, these range clearance operations can be a goldmine of EOD experience.

B safe

Todd DeVoe, US Navy Master EOD Technician (ret'd)
# Posted By Todd DeVoe | 3/31/08 5:12 PM

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