Article by Guest Author: Jack Imber
Author of the book DEMINER available from Amazon

A young EOD soldier who had spent two long tours in Afghanistan had been honorably discharged from the Army. He became a UXO Tech II and was now working on his second clearance project. One day, after working nearly three weeks on a sweep team he yelled out to his team leader, "I think I found a landmine here!"

"Mark the area behind it with a red flag" the team leader shouted back. "Everyone mark your spot on the sweep line, gather your gear and head back to the trucks. I'll check it out when everyone is clear and back at our rally point."

The team quickly and quietly followed their team leader's instructions. He was now all alone on the grid while the rest of the team waited by the trucks. He had already passed off the radio to one of the team members. If anything went wrong the man with the radio would call it in.

Walking towards the flag he scanned the ground all around the flag. There indeed had been landmines found on this military maneuvering range but so far they had been inert practice ones. It would be very unlikely to find a live one here. Still, protocols needed to be followed and precautions taken. Besides, there had been live cluster bombs found and they were not intended to be here either.

The team leader saw only the exposed edge of a flat curved object, olive green in color, near the red flag. The young Tech II had not attempted to uncover it beyond what was exposed to the air. Carefully the team leader worked away the loose soil until he could see exactly what it was. At last with a sigh of relief he pulled the object from its' resting place. It was a half rusted metal canteen. He had never seen one this round before. Perhaps it was from World War I he thought.

He took his find back to the waiting crew members by the trucks. When he finally joined them the team leader raised the object for all to see. "A very old round canteen," he said. The team started to laugh.

"Knock it off," he yelled, "Listen up!" The Tech II who had found the object was turning red with embarrassment. The team leader continued, "I would much prefer someone be cautious by suspecting something could be dangerous then say, mess with a live landmine thinking that it was just a canteen. Things can happen when people become complacent. They stop thinking about potential dangers. This is a teachable moment. If I would have let this Tech II continue his search he would have discovered that it was only a canteen. Instead he followed procedure which is what I had instructed you to do when faced with a similar situation. Someone who suspects the worst possible case first is the person I most want on my team. Your job is to follow the safety protocols that I have set. My job is to make sure each of you can walk off the grid at the end of every workday."


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