The bomb squad

Published February 9, 2021 58 Views

Rumble The bomb squad – Meet the US EOD team saving lives with the NATO-led KFOR mission in Kosovo

Credit: Elodie Romain | Date Taken: 04/01/2019
SYNOPSIS Meet the bomb squad, a team of US Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) specialists deployed in Kosovo. They served the Kosovo Force or KFOR, the NATO-led mission in Kosovo mandated under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999 to ensure a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all communities in Kosovo. The EOD team’s role is to help clear some of the thousands of explosive remnants of war left over from past conflicts. It’s dangerous work. The team is called out in pairs, often at short notice, and works alongside the Kosovo Security Force and the Kosovo Police to ensure explosives that pose a danger to local communities are dealt with quickly, safely and permanently. In this short documentary, we meet the team and chronicle a small part of their mission. Please note that typical COVID-19 precautions are not displayed in the video because filming took place prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Footage includes shots of the EOD team on an active mission to clear mines with the Kosovo Security Force, training with the Kosovo Police and training at at Camp Bondsteel, a US Army base under command of the NATO-led Kosovo Force. —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Sergeant First Class, Benjamin Arold, US 720th EOD Company “You put the bomb suit on. It’s just you and your thoughts. Just thinking about what you’re about to do next, what you’re trying to protect around you.” TEXT ON SCREEN —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) First Lieutenant Taylor Martin, Commander US 720th EOD Company “Fire in the hole!” We are a US explosive ordnance disposal team. We’re bomb technicians, to put it simply. In general it’s a pretty dangerous profession. THE TEAM TAYLOR PANDO NICOLE TEXT ON SCREEN KYLE BEN NICK EOD operates in a very small eight-person platoon. It means a lot to be here in Kosovo.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Specialist Giovanni Pando, US 720th EOD Company “We’re just like a family. I don’t even look at it as work.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Specialist Nicole Powers-Trimolt, US 720th EOD Company “Everyone trusts each other, so we know that we have each other’s back.” TEXT ON SCREEN ZACK ANDREW —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Andrew Himple, US 720th EOD Company “We are here to protect the people of Kosovo.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “I make a difference in people’s lives. This is our life.” TEXT ON SCREEN THE BOMB SQUAD “EVERY MAN AND EVERY WOMAN WHO HAS SERVED UNDER THE KOSOVO FORCE FLAG HAS HELPED TO CHANGE THE COURSE OF HISTORY IN KOSOVO” Jens Stoltenberg NATO Secretary General CAMP BONDSTEEL NATO-LED KOSOVO FORCE (KFOR) —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) First Lieutenant Taylor Martin, Commander US 720th EOD Company “We are a US explosive ordnance disposal team that is a part of NATO’s Kosovo Force, also known as KFOR. I’m the Task Force EOD commander, so I command the EOD unit and send all of my guys out on the missions responding to explosive remnants of war in Kosovo. The EOD techs are ruthless and they will make fun of you. They think it’s funny. They like to mess with me.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Specialist Giovanni Pando, US 720th EOD Company “She has a lot of cats.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Andrew Himple, US 720th EOD Company “Lieutenant Martin has four cats. I can never remember their names, they change all the time.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “One of them is named Cinnamon, the other one is named Rupert, Reginald and I believe the last one is Princess Sofia.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) First Lieutenant Taylor Martin, Commander US 720th EOD Company “I don’t own any cats. I know they say that I do but I don’t.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Andrew Himple, US 720th EOD Company “She loves her hairless cats.” TEXT ON SCREEN THE JOB —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) First Lieutenant Taylor Martin, Commander US 720th EOD Company “You can find anything from World War Two ordnance up to Yugoslav, a lot of Yugoslav-based ordnance.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Sergeant Nicholas Schleicher, US 720th EOD Company “Basically anything that blows up, we take care of.” TEXT ON SCREEN KOSOVO POLICE EXPLOSIVES TRAINING RANGE EXPLOSIVES TRAINING —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Sergeant Nicholas Schleicher, US 720th EOD Company “We try to dispose of everything by detonation. So whether we do it there or we take it away and do it somewhere else, we tend to blow it up.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “Getting to blow stuff up is always the best thing.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) First Lieutenant Taylor Martin, Commander US 720th EOD Company “I’m very impressed by the Kosovo Police. They are the equivalent to a US bomb squad. It’s a lot of fun working with them.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “Hands down been some the most friendly and hospitable people I’ve ever met.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) First Lieutenant Taylor Martin, Commander US 720th EOD Company “Which one do you want to do? The van?” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Member of the Kosovo Police Force “Just don’t put it here.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) First Lieutenant Taylor Martin, Commander US 720th EOD Company “This one?” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Member of the Kosovo Police Force “No, no, no.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “We’re just taking side bets. The main point of this is we all theorise what’s going to happen when we place charges down there and this is just a quick way for us to make a reference, like ‘you said this would happen but this is what actually happened’ so we can refer to it later on when we go to employ these tools again. It’s very competitive between us. Everyone wants to be right.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) First Lieutenant Taylor Martin, Commander US 720th EOD Company “I bet that the back door is going to open all the way and that the bumper is going to come off, so we’ll see.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “And it won’t catch on fire.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) First Lieutenant Taylor Martin, Commander US 720th EOD Company “And it won’t catch on fire.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Specialist Giovanni Pando, US 720th EOD Company “No, the back door will be there.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “What about the bumper?” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Specialist Giovanni Pando, US 720th EOD Company “The bumper’s coming off.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) First Lieutenant Taylor Martin, Commander US 720th EOD Company “Arold, do we have everyone? Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole!” TEXT ON SCREEN THE EOD MINDSET —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Sergeant First Class Benjamin Arold, US 720th EOD Company “So an EOD technician, well, a very specific type of person. We tend to think we’re all the best at everything we do.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Specialist Nicole Powers-Trimolt, US 720th EOD Company “You don’t have to be nerdy, but the group of people that you work with are typically a little nerdy overall, so you’ll blend in a little bit better if you’re kind of a nerd.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Sergeant Nicholas Schleicher US 720th EOD Company “If you guys have ever heard of like amateur radio stuff? I don’t know, I find that interesting.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Andrew Himple, US 720th EOD Company “Sergeant Schleicher, I’d say he’s probably the most nerdy.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Sergeant Nicholas Schleicher US 720th EOD Company “Oh I’m not nerdy at all. I don’t know what people are…. what are other interviewees… what are they saying? They’re saying I’m nerdy?” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) First Lieutenant Taylor Martin, Commander US 720th EOD Company “Am I concerned about his weird satellite contraption? Yes. But good for him, maybe one day it will lead to something.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Andrew Himple, US 720th EOD Company “So one of my hobbies is building Lego sets.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) First Lieutenant Taylor Martin, Commander US 720th EOD Company “Oh Sergeant Himple? Yeah, I don’t know, he likes Legos. It’s really important to have those things that you can revert back to because maybe you’ll get back from a response and you’re still thinking about the mission and what you just did. It’s good to have that hobby to take your mind off of what’s going on.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) First Lieutenant Taylor Martin, Commander US 720th EOD Company “Specialist Pando, he’s recently become promotable so he’s about to transition to that next step of becoming an EOD team leader.” TEXT ON SCREEN SUITING UP —SOT—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “Alright, you’re about to be given a bomb suit physical fitness test. Go ahead and state your full name for me.” -SOT—(ENGLISH) Specialist Giovanni Pando, US 720th EOD Company “Giovanni Pando.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “What town were you born in?” -SOT—(ENGLISH) Specialist Giovanni Pando, US 720th EOD Company “South Beach.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “Alright. What state?” -SOT—(ENGLISH) Specialist Giovanni Pando, US 720th EOD Company “Florida.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “What’s the capital of Florida?” -SOT—(ENGLISH) Specialist Giovanni Pando, US 720th EOD Company “Tallahassee.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “Alright, go.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “There’s times when your response mission that you get called out on is on top of a mountain and the closest you can get to it is the bottom of the mountain and then you have to walk. Our bomb suit alone weighs approximately 80 pounds (36kg). You’re using your entire body to move that extra 80 pounds and it’s holding in all of your heat. So fitness is hands down one of the top priorities.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “So what he’s doing right now is to simulate us having to carry heavy objects for longer distances while in the suit. It takes a different bit of technique when you go to pick up a heavier item and when you go to walk with it.” -SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Specialist Giovanni Pando, US 720th EOD Company “Our bomb suit test, it’s important, it’s so critical in our job. There’s no room for error in this career field working with explosives. It’s either your life or somebody else’s life on the line. —SOT—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “Alright, before we pull you out, what’s your full name?” -SOT—(ENGLISH) Specialist Giovanni Pando, US 720th EOD Company “Giovanni Pando.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “Do you remember the other questions I asked you?” -SOT—(ENGLISH) Specialist Giovanni Pando, US 720th EOD Company “Born in South Beach, Florida. Capital of Florida is Tallahassee.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “Alright, you’re good. Is it hot in there?” -SOT—(ENGLISH) Specialist Giovanni Pando, US 720th EOD Company “Just a little bit.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “Alright, you passed.” -SOT—(ENGLISH) Specialist Giovanni Pando, US 720th EOD Company “Just a little sweaty, that’s all.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “So that right there is a flawless performance, that’s what we are looking for. He maintained positive control of all items while carrying them and holding them. Everything was done in a controlled and deliberate fashion.” -SOT—(ENGLISH) Specialist Giovanni Pando, US 720th EOD Company “You just have to keep your composure at all times and don’t freak out.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “A typical IED (Improvised Explosive Device) incident where you’re going to be utilising the suit can span anywhere from one hour all the way upwards of four hours.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) First Lieutenant Taylor Martin, Commander US 720th EOD Company “Look how bad he looks now, imagine four hours later.” SOT—(ENGLISH) Specialist Giovanni Pando, US 720th EOD Company “What are you talking about? I think I look great.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Sergeant Nicholas Schleicher US 720th EOD Company “You look [expletive] great. Look, he’s got the double wave! Bless up, dude.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) First Lieutenant Taylor Martin, Commander US 720th EOD Company “We typically get a call every day to every other day. It’s really weird because for the past week and a half we’ve only had one call.” TEXT ON SCREEN ANSWERING THE CALL —SOT—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “Yes Ma’am. So South Mitrovica, thirteen-hundred. OK, thank you very much, Ma’am. That is a five-line request that just came in for a UXO that has been found at a mine clearance site.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Specialist Nicole Powers-Trimolt, US 720th EOD Company “OK, so a UXO stands for ‘unexploded ordnance’. Anything from a hand grenade to a mortar or any type of projectile.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) ‘Beckham’ Kosovar translator for US 720th EOD Company “There’s a lot of remnants of war in Kosovo. People, when they see them, they want to touch them because they don’t know what’s that, and they are very dangerous, so people as soon as they see something, they will report it.” “Kyle, you have to be careful.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Kosovo Security Force officer “Hello.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) First Lieutenant Taylor Martin, Commander US 720th EOD Company “We work with the Kosovo Security Forces. They are very good at their jobs.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) ‘Beckham’ Kosovar Translator for US 720th EOD Company “You guys ready? OK, let’s go.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Sergeant Nicholas Schleicher US 720th EOD Company “The local populace here, they’re pretty good at identifying ordnance. They’ll just be hiking along and they’ll see the shape of a projectile and they call it up.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Specialist Kyle McLaughlin, US 720th EOD Company “We deal directly with people’s livelihoods. Mostly farm fields and livestock. You have to be able to adapt and change quickly to mitigate damage to people’s livelihoods.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Kosovar member of demining team “Hello guys. Once again thank you for coming and I wish you good luck.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Specialist Kyle McLaughlin, US 720th EOD Company “So with these munitions it is safer to blow them up where they are. We’re in a permissive environment where we’re not going to damage anybody’s property or hurt anybody if we do it here. For me as a team member I’m usually back but I have to watch my team leader. It’s my responsibility. If anything happens, I have to bring him back.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Sergeant Nicholas Schleicher US 720th EOD Company “It looks like we have some cows trying to infiltrate our area. “ —SOT—(ENGLISH) Specialist Kyle McLaughlin, US 720th EOD Company “Oh, I see them. They’re up top.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Sergeant Nicholas Schleicher US 720th EOD Company “They’re not very sneaky with those bells on.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Specialist Kyle McLaughlin, US 720th EOD Company “I think that’s the point of the bells.” —SOT—(ALBANIAN) KSF member “Get back, get back. Thirty seconds to go.” —SOT—(ALBANIAN) Kosovar member of demining team “Fire in the hole! Fire!” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Sergeant Nicholas Schleicher US 720th EOD Company “So this is the shot hole of a UXO. So after we just did a disposal operation, this is what you’re left with. Safe for the people and if you noticed before the wildlife and the cows? Safe for everybody.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Specialist Kyle McLaughlin, US 720th EOD Company “With any mine clearance there’s potentially an infinite number in this area, they don’t know. They’re still in the process of clearing but that’s three more that are gone, that can’t hurt this man or his livestock and his livelihood. So we’ll keep coming back as many times as they call us.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) Specialist Kyle McLaughlin, US 720th EOD Company “Being a member of this EOD team is everything. It’s what I’ve wanted to do my whole life, so being here is like a dream come true.” —SOT—(ENGLISH) Staff Sergeant Zachary McLain, US 720th EOD Company “To be part of this team, for me is one of the highest honours that I have. Others trust me with their life and I trust them with mine.” —SOUNDBITE—(ENGLISH) First Lieutenant Taylor Martin, Commander US 720th EOD Company “I’m incredibly proud of them and I think that just comes from the job and knowing how important it is, benefiting the lives of people that live in Kosovo.” TEXT ON SCREEN PRODUCED BY NATO WITH THANKS TO THE US ARMY 720TH EOD COMPANY FIRST LIEUTENANT TAYLOR MARTIN SERGEANT FIRST CLASS BENJAMIN AROLD STAFF SERGEANT ZACHARY MCLAIN STAFF SERGEANT ANDREW HIMPLE SERGEANT NICHOLAS SCHLEICHER SPECIALIST KYLE MCLAUGHLIN SPECIALIST NICOLE POWERS-TRIMOLT SPECIALIST GIOVANNI PANDO KOSOVO POLICE FORCE KOSOVO SECURITY FORCE NATO-LED KOSOVO FORCE