Story and Photo by
1st Lt. Kyle Suchomski
95th Engineer Company (Clearance), 65th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Working with explosives is simply another day on the job in Afghanistan for Soldiers of the 95th Engineer Company (Clearance), 65th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command.
“As route clearance Sappers, our Soldiers are well-accustomed to explosions, controlled or otherwise,” said 1st Lt. Wade Robertson, platoon leader, 95th Eng. Co., 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde.
“Demolitions are our primary means of safely neutralizing (improvised explosive devices, or) IEDs, so it’s important that every Soldier maintains a high level of familiarity with all of the assets in our inventory,” Robertson said.
Explosives are an important part of a combat engineer’s arsenal. Whether conducting route clearance or breaching an obstacle, Sappers must be confident with many types of demolitions.
And although the charges in an IED usually consist of homemade materials, they are no less of a threat. By understanding how explosive systems function, the unit can work more safely to eliminate IEDs.
“Working with explosives is one of those things that is not only good to know, but is also really cool to do,” said Spc. Roy Adams, 95th Eng. Co., 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., during one of the company’s recent demolitions ranges.
“There’s nothing like feeling that blast pressure in your chest,” Adams said.
Over the past several months, the unit has been working to sharpen its skills with an assortment of explosive charges, each designed for a specific task.
The Soldiers have learned to construct specialized charges that can be emplaced with the Talon robot to detonate an IED from a distance. They use detonation cord to create ribbon, donut and water-impulse charges, which can be hastily employed to cut through a wall or door.
“Demolitions ranges are a chance to blow something up. It’s a really good way for us to let off some steam between missions,” said Staff Sgt. Aumoana Sailo, sergeant, 4th Platoon, 95th Eng. Co., 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde.
Soldiers with the 95th Eng. Co. will continue to “have a blast” conducting route clearance missions until returning to Schofield Barracks later this summer, as Sappers rarely get the opportunity to experience the full potential of explosives, said Sgt. 1st Class Paul Tuimivave, operations noncommissioned officer in charge, 95th Eng. Co., 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde.
“Due to range restrictions on Schofield Barracks, our ability to run the scope of demolitions training we’d like (to conduct) is pretty limited,” he said. “There just aren’t many size or quantity restrictions on demolition out here.”