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CSI: Yuma

24 Oct 2007 | Lance Cpl. Gregory Aalto

Explosive ordnance disposal Marines throughout the Marine Corps took part in a post-blast investigation course at the EOD compound Oct. 22-26 here.

The Department of Defense Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Office held the course to expand Marines post-blast investigation techniques.

“The course has 16 classroom hours and 24 practical application hours aimed at teaching traditional post-blast techniques and then applying them to scenarios they may run into in Iraq,” said Gary Ashton, A&T Solutions team leader and former EOD sailor.

Throughout the course the Marines will be using around 100 pounds of explosives, he said.

The Marines trained in a traditional scenario Oct. 24, where students had two hours to do an in-depth post blast investigation.

Chris Lee and Seth Hosack, A&T Solutions ordnance technicians, set up an old teal Plymouth sedan for destruction at the EOD munitions treatment range.

The civilian ordnance technicians set up the vehicle similar to the way vehicle borne IEDs have been set up in Iraq. Marines wired the radio detonation device to finalize the process, before the class arrived.

EOD technicians, corpsman and civilian contractors watched from more than half a mile away as the car exploded and became a charred pile of metal with the push of a button. Most of the vehicle burned up in the fire, however, the driver’s side door and frame flew 25 yards southeast and were relatively untouched.

“Somehow this door still works,” said Sgt. Chad Hraha, Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton Calif., EOD technician. With the hinges still operable, Hraha was able to open the door to check for debris as if it were still attached to the vehicle.

“Even a partial piece of the ignition device could be useful in identifying who set up the attack,” said Mark Smear, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives senior special agent.

Smear said he was at the course to bring the civilian law enforcement’s perspective to the week-long class.

Marine Corps Air Station Yuma EOD is responsible for bomb threats in a 100-mile radius around the air station.

Students came in to determine a reference point near the blast crater for distances and complete other post blast investigation techniques after the blast.

The final two days of the course had a stricter time limit and required smaller groups to simulate the realities of Iraq.

“When I was in Iraq, a 15 minute post-blast investigation was the most time we would ever have,” said Sgt. Aaron Koerner, H&HS EOD technician and post-blast investigation operations chief.

“Safety is paramount and the longer you are out at one of these sites in country, the more you are compromising your personal safety,” Koerner added.

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