Bosnia, United States Share Best Practices for Land Mine Removal

U.S. Army Captain David Watkins, left, commander of the 55th Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Company, talks with Bosnian Army Captain Aleksandar Atelj, center, and Staff Sergeant Arnes Hodzic at Fort Belvoir on June 27.
U.S. Army Captain David Watkins, left, commander of the 55th Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Company, talks with Bosnian Army Captain Aleksandar Atelj, center, and Staff Sergeant Arnes Hodzic at Fort Belvoir on June 27.

Washington,
01 July 2014
Military-to-military exchanges are giving American and Bosnian soldiers the chance to train together on land mine removal and refine best practices for ensuring public safety.

When the war in Bosnia ended in 1995, Bosnia was one of the most heavily mined countries on earth. Almost 20 years later, Bosnian army explosive ordnance disposal technicians are working with U.S. Army technicians to learn techniques for effective mine removal.

U.S. Army Captain David Watkins, commander of the 55th Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Company, and Bosnian Army Captain Aleksandar Atelj and Staff Sergeant Arnes Hodzic, were three of the soldiers who trained at Fort Belvoir in Virginia during the Bosnians’ visit to the United States.

“Bosnia has a unique EOD challenge,” Watkins said June 27. “The country is heavily mined with both anti-personnel and anti-tank land mines. Recently, heavy flooding has proposed an even more complex problem as minefields are shifting to unmarked areas.”

Watkins said the Bosnian visit is part of the National Guard–managed State Partnership Program. An American team from the 32nd Civil Support Team traveled to Bosnia in April.

“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 said.

The Bosnian army is preparing to conduct new missions, said Watkins, who explained that the “Bosnian army is looking to do a mission shift from strictly homeland defense to more of a civil support role for emergencies.”

During their visit to the United States, the Bosnian EOD troops will observe Exercise Ravens Challenge, an interagency exercise hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice.