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U.S. donates bomb suits to Kyrgyz military EOD brethren
From front to back, Staff Sgt. Ryan Prince, Staff Sgt. James Bennett and Airman 1st Class Daniel Tubbs watch as Chief Sergeant Murbek Sergeevich Moldaliv presents Senior Airman James Tucci with a robe following the Krygyz graduation from the five-day EOD course Aug. 6. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Nathan Bevier)
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U.S. donates bomb suits to Kyrgyz military EOD brethren

Posted 8/8/2010   Updated 8/8/2010 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Buzanowski
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

8/8/2010 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan -- "It seems you understood what we will be doing tomorrow. Some of these sergeants here will be going and defusing some bombs. Thank you," said the Kyrgyzstan colonel. He smiled at the four explosive ordnance disposal bomb suits donated from the Air Force with help from the U.S. State Department Aug. 6, knowing they may help save the life of one of his soldiers in Osh.

Ziabek Beishebekovich Kamchibekov, chief of the engineering department, Kyrgyz Republic Ministry of Defense, sent 14 EOD soldiers from two different military units to the Transit Center to learn about the Airmen's tools, tactics and techniques for five days. The suits were presented at the graduation ceremony.

The 376th Civil Engineer Squadron's EOD Flight has offered this type of training to the Ministry of Defense on three other occasions. "We used the same format we did for the March course," said Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Schulte, EOD Flight chief, who said typical EOD deployments are six-month rotations. "For us the key thing was to be able to show them how to do something and then let them try it for themselves," said the former EOD instructor.

Another instructor said the camaraderie between EOD doesn't change because of the uniform that's worn. "I liked getting to know our EOD brothers, though we don't speak the same language they are just as crazy as we are," Staff Sgt. Ryan Prince who gave the initial in brief. "They were really knowledgeable. On the range translations weren't as important - explosives are an international language."

Other members echoed the sergeant's sentiments. "Meeting the guys and realizing that they're the same as us - they wanted to have fun, we had fun. I wasn't assigned a class so I was able to hop around from station to station," Senior Airman James Tucci, EOD Flight, who returned just in time being in Afghanistan's Maywand Province for seven weeks.

Among the most thought-provoking of the classes was how to move a suspicious package out of a building using rope, pulleys and different fasteners and then how to use an x-ray machine to diagnose the contents of a package and how the IED will function in order to render it safe. They also got to try different techniques that involve either shooting or setting off a counter-charge to help disrupt devices so they can be completely dismantled.

"This was my first time instructing so it was also a test of what I learned from my peers. I was able to teach the material well enough because the Kyrgyz were able to x-ray and identify the contents. I was nervous at first because I didn't know what their personalities would be. I do know that we would have been really good friends if we didn't have the language barrier between us," said Airman First Class Daniel Tubbs, EOD Flight.

Despite the language challenges, the training was well-received. "I've been to different courses in different countries but this is my first time working with the Americans," said Murbek Sergeevich Moldaliv, the class' ranking enlisted member and first-time Transit Center visitor.

"I'm enjoying the knowledge they are giving to us - we have the same objective," said Chief Sergeant Moldaliv speaking of the Americans. "Every person's life is important. Uzbekistani, Chinese, American - we're all humans. My duty is to protect my fatherland. I will never let my flag be stomped on by someone else, but my biggest objective is to have peace in the world. With the criminal element and terrorists my soul aches for them, but we can't ask why they do such horrible things," he said talking about the cowardly tactics of improvised explosives.

"I've used my skills in other countries, but in Kyrgyzstan I've not had to use them here yet," said Chief Sergeant Moldaliv.

At the end of the training, Colonel Kamchibekov thanked the Transit Center Airmen. "Thank you so much for this opportunity for our new generation of sergeants to observe and apply these skills. Now they are at the heart of the knowledge and experience, and now they have a better understanding of tools for disarming IEDs. Just like you, I hope we continue we have the same goals to protect our nations and our people. The best warrior isn't the one with the most equipment; the best warrior is the one with knowledge. It is my hope that my staff will apply this knowledge to peace," said Colonel Kamchibekov.

Sharing knowledge was a key theme of the training said Staff Sgt. Kurt Abrahamson, EOD instructor. "We've learned some things from them," he said pointing out Chief Moldaliv. "He's passed some knowledge on things they used to do with explosives and how they've made their own landmines. I've always enjoyed passing on knowledge - my belief knowledge isn't something to be held by one person. As EOD techs we're all brothers no matter what country or branch we are part of. Our overall goal with this was to give them ways of doing things safer and to demonstrate the tools we hope they'll have one day," said Sergeant Abrahamson.

The EOD Flight's professionalism was lauded by the Kyrgyz colonel. "Everything was done at a very high level by your personnel. I like the fact that everything had a safety brief. Instructions were followed to a T. Safety is so important especially for EOD. I think all the exercises were high quality and on a high level. I hope that my subordinates received all the knowledge you provided then and that it will stay with them for a while. I'm giving them the order to be proficient and to teach others. I look at my sergeants as future instructors. This is a first for most of my sergeants and some of them are here for a second time so for them my expectations are really high," said Colonel Kamchibekov.

At the after-action meeting with both countries' participants voiced their appreciation for one another.

"On behalf of my staff and both units, thank you for this course. This program was different because everything was from civil engineering practical exercise and everyone was able to put their hands-on and do it. I know we'd be able to disarm whatever was in front of us," said Maj. Islambek Arstanbekovich Koshkeev.

It's been just 19 years since their independence from Russia in 1991. The EOD technicians are still waiting on some equipment they need to do the job better and more safe. "I don't want you to think of us as guys asking for help, but Kyrgyzstan is a young nation," said Major Koshkeev.

The 376th CES commander, Lt. Col. Thomas Bongiovi, reciprocated the same thoughts on behalf of Americans. "We ask more of you than you ask of us. We've been asking of your help because of what we are doing in Afghanistan. We've asked for you to let us stay here in your country. We ask for you to keep us safe and to protect us, so I hope you don't think of us Americans as always asking."

EOD instructors offered their feedback as well. "In the short time you were here your aptitude was very high and you learned very quickly and I myself was impressed," said Staff Sgt James Bennett, EOD instructor.

Sergeant Schulte added on behalf of all of the EOD instructors their appreciation for their Kygyrz counterparts. "It was a pleasure and honor to do this with you guys - and next time you come to Manas we'll do it all again but you'll be showing us your tactics and techniques," said Sergeant Schulte.

During training, EOD technicians needed the help of three translators to communicate.

"I love everything new," said Staff Sgt. Yevgniy Maksimov, who said that some of the technical information was difficult to translate. "The EOD technicians were very good about substituting words and explaining things simply. It was completely new to me because I've never had to work with EOD before."

With the cultural differences, Sergeant Maksimov said that to interpret a one-sentence joke would sometimes take three times that in order to explain the punch line. The sergeant also thanks his Kyrgyz partners, Nurilya and Meerim, who helped translate during the week. "These ladies are civilians and haven't been around very many military weapons or anything that could be considered dangerous. They were out of their comfort zone, but were very courageous - if they were at all nervous they didn't' show it. Also, it was incredible for me to find out how brave of professionals the EOD guys are. Their job deals with potentially facing death and the fact they understand the responsibility and want to save and protect other troops is amazing."

Also impressed by EOD's professionalism was Senior Airman Christopher Perry, security escort volunteer, who said he gained a greater appreciation for both the countries' EOD technicians. "So much so, I'm considering cross training into EOD."

Although the training was only five days, the American EOD instructors made a lasting impression, said Chief Sergeant Moldaliv. "Great guys. All of them. Our kind of homeboys."

8/12/2010 12:35:57 AM ET
Very proud of you soldiers... come home safe and soon
Becka, MI
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