EOD community builds bilateral relations
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- "Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole!"
After these words are shouted, what is left to hear is the sound of a "KABOOM!" from a nearby explosion slowly overshadowed by the resonating splashes of the morning Pacific Ocean.
It is just another day on the job if you ask any of Misawa Air Base's Explosive Ordnance Disposal team members, but not entirely.
At the team's side are fellow Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces and U.S. Navy members, partaking in a joint bilateral EOD exercise at the Draughon Bombing Range, July 15, 2014.
Master Sgt. Cary Gibson, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD flight chief, explained that the objective of the training exercise is to demonstrate their ability to gain access to vehicles suspected as improvised explosive devices.
They incorporated the JMSDF EOD team as a way to show them the ins and outs of how the U.S. military's EOD teams operate. On this occasion the team was demonstrating their ability to utilize vehicle access explosive tools that have been perfected over the last decade at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. These are tools the Japanese don't necessarily have access to, explained Gibson.
For U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. Jehu Humphries, officer in charge of EOD Mobile Unit 5, working bilaterally with the JMSDF members is nothing new, as they have always had a long standing relationship with their EOD counterparts.
"The EOD community is very tight knit," said Humphries. "Any chance we can get to work together with fellow EOD members from different units, we are open to it."
While a language barrier exists between Japanese and American forces, there are similarities between how they operate. There is a foundation for the way they all communicate, and that's EOD.
"Our units are more similar than you'd think," stated Humphries. "With EOD, we speak a very common language. If we hint at what we are talking about, then there's already an understanding of what that is."
The beauty of the community is no matter what nationality or branch of service, Humphries said, there is an immediate connection anytime EOD members get together. It is the commonality of having the same mission of saving lives and protecting people.
"It is important for the Japanese to get out here and train with us," said Manzi. "The range gives us the ability to demonstrate our capabilities for their awareness."
In addition to exhibiting techniques at Range Day, the Misawa EOD team also works closely with the students at the local Japanese EOD school, allowing their Japanese counterparts to apply their skills on and off the range.
"What I enjoy most is meeting new people and building friendships," said Manzi. "We hope we can continue to work with them in the future."