MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
The station’s combined explosive ordnance disposal unit used experiences and lessons from several combat deployments to educate members of the U.S. Border Patrol and Transportation Security Administration, Nov. 1, 2010.
The EOD technicians served as instructors for the agents, teaching them about improvised explosive device components, disguised explosives and ignition systems.
“We want to familiarize them with the tactics learned in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Gunnery Sgt. Michael Chapman, EOD technician. “With the possibility of illegal aliens, drug cartels and terror suspects sneaking over the border, it’s not unlikely that the Border Patrol agents will run into these kinds of things.”
Across the southern border, the Mexican government’s bloody struggle literally exploded recently when a suicide bomber blew up a vehicle, killing several people.
“It was great training,” said Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Justin Kallinger. “It was great to learn the identifiers for IED components in the field for the Border Patrol.”
TSA baggage screeners gained valuable experience examining x-ray photographs of explosives and ignition systems disguised as everyday objects such as shoes, laptop computers, pens, tobacco cans and printer cartridges.
Recently, a printer cartridge filled with explosives bound for the U.S. was found on a United Parcel Service airplane in England.
“This gives the screeners and people in the airports an idea of what to look for in an X-ray or on somebody’s person,” said Phil Heppel, a TSA explosives specialist. “Most of the time the only exposure they get to these things is in a classroom environment. Here, they got to see these things in person.”
Following the classroom presentation, students were taken to the station’s munitions treatment range where they were allowed to handle various types of explosives.
The EOD technicians then detonated an assortment of disguised explosives, hidden in shoes, computers, printer cartridges and cigarette boxes, allowing the students to see the affects.
“It was amazing to see how little of an amount of explosive can do damage to things like a pressurized airplane or steel door,” said Kallinger. “It was also interesting to see how much more difficult to detect they can be than one would think. I hope we can do more training like this.”