8th TSC EODs to keep UN delegates safe in NYC

| August 31, 2012 | 0 Comments
Sgt. Luis Barrera, explosive ordinance disposal team member, 74th EOD Co., 303rd EOD Bn., 45th Sust. Bde., 8th Theater Sust. Comd., uses hand entry techniques to access a potential threat during training, at Schofield Barracks, Aug. 8. Barrera is a team member on one of nine two-man teams the unit is sending to the UN General Assembly in New York City in September.

Sgt. Luis Barrera, explosive ordinance disposal team member, 74th EOD Co., 303rd EOD Bn., 45th Sust. Bde., 8th Theater Sust. Comd., uses hand entry techniques to access a potential threat during training, at Schofield Barracks, Aug. 8. Barrera is a team member on one of nine two-man teams the unit is sending to the UN General Assembly in New York City in September.

Nine local teams will provide support at annual assembly

Story and photo by Sgt. Marcus Fichtl
8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs,
8th Theater Sustainment Command

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Ban Ki Moon, secretary, United Nations, will open the 67th General Assembly of the UN in New York City and kick off the world’s annual congress on global issues, Sept. 18.

During the assembly, delegates from 193 member states will discuss issues from the civil war in Syria to territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

But one thing they will not need to discuss is their safety.

Nine two-man teams of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Soldiers from the 74th EOD Company, 303rd EOD Battalion, 45th Sustainment Brigade, 8th Theater Sust. Command, will turn in their bombproof suits for civilian attire to provide security for the assembly.

The EOD Soldiers of the 74th will team up with the U.S. Secret Service, local police and EOD teams from every branch of the military.

“What we provide is EOD teams to search venues, motorcades, vehicles and equipment that will be in proximity of these heads of states,” said 1st Sgt. David Silva, 74th EOD Co., 303rd EOD Bn., 45th Sust. Bde.

“Every time before a delegate moves from point A to point B, the route needs to be cleared; everything needs to be checked,” Silva said.

But it’s not just the motorcade routes teams will be clearing; they will clear routes when delegates go jogging or when they go out for lunch. Anywhere someone even thinks of going, the teams from the 74th will already have been there.

“An explosive device can be hidden in absolutely anything,” Silva said.

However, the EOD teams will perform their tasks in accordance with the Posse Comitatus Act, which limits law enforcement agencies from using federal military personnel for enforcing local laws.

“We aren’t law enforcement,” Silva explained.

The EOD teams will not diffuse or dismantle any device, Silva continued. Instead, they will stand by to verify and determine if there is a hazard and allow the Secret Service and local law enforcement to take the lead.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bennis, one of the nine team leaders from the 74th EOD, has provided assistance to a previous UN General Assembly mission, as well as similar missions in Malaysia and the Philippines.

“Depending on who you are supporting, the mission parameters can change, but the basic mission never changes: protection of the VIP,” Bennis said.

And as the team leader, the risk and mission sits squarely on Bennis’ shoulders.

“As a staff sergeant team leader, I have to go in first; I have to make the decision,” Bennis said.

But while Bennis may make the hard decisions, his team member won’t hesitate to challenge or re-evaluate these decisions to make sure the mission gets accomplished.

“No one is better trained than us,” Silva said.

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Category: Community Relations, Leadership, News, Safety

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