Face of Defense: Lieutenant Leads EOD Unit in Afghanistan

CAMP MARMAL, Afghanistan — Lead­ing one of the most dan­ger­ous units in north­ern Afghanistan typ­i­cal­ly includes a heavy bur­den of respon­si­bil­i­ty for its com­pa­ny com­man­der.

Navy Lt. Eric R. Bond, com­pa­ny com­man­der of the Com­bined Joint Task Force Explo­sive Ord­nance Dis­pos­al unit based in Camp Sha­heen, Afghanistan, pre­pares to destroy a cache of recov­ered explo­sive devices. U.S. Navy pho­to by Lt. Eric R. Bond
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Navy Lt. Eric R. Bond, a 2007 grad­u­ate of the U.S. Naval Acad­e­my, under­stands this bet­ter than most as the offi­cer in charge of the Com­bined Joint Task Force Explo­sive Ord­nance Dis­pos­al unit based in Camp Sha­heen. Bond, an Ash­burn, Va., native, is respon­si­ble for the safe­ty and readi­ness of his spe­cial forces team, which is trained and equipped to take on life or death mis­sions in a mul­ti­tude of tac­ti­cal envi­ron­ments, such as onboard ships, under­wa­ter, and in urban areas, mine­fields and bat­tle­fields.

As if this was not enough, Bond decid­ed to take on the addi­tion­al respon­si­bil­i­ty of train­ing Afghan secu­ri­ty forces so they can prop­er­ly dis­pose of explo­sives after the U.S. mil­i­tary leaves Afghanistan.

“Our direct task is to defeat the [impro­vised explo­sive device] threat,” he said. “But it became clear to me that if we intend­ed to leave respon­si­bly, we need­ed to do part­ner­ships. One of my major ini­tia­tives is to part­ner any time we could with the Afghans.”

To facil­i­tate col­lab­o­ra­tive efforts with the Afghan Nation­al Army, Bond need­ed the sup­port of a top-lev­el Afghan leader. This led him to Capt. Isla­mudin Behad­du, who is tasked to lead Afghanistan’s EOD unit.

“The first thing I did is fos­ter a rela­tion­ship with Cap­tain Behad­du,” Bond said. “As the appoint­ed team leader, he had not gone through the train­ing him­self. But he com­plet­ed the train­ing … and grad­u­at­ed. He earned the respect of his EOD team by com­plet­ing the same train­ing they did.”

Bond also worked to form part­ner­ships with EOD teams from oth­er Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Forces, such as Ger­many, Swe­den, Nor­way, Fin­land, Nether­lands and Latvia. How­ev­er, these ISAF coun­tries focus more on remov­ing the IED threats that are lit­tered across Afghanistan due to many years of war.

“It just made sense to me to estab­lish part­ner­ships,” he said.

The CJTF Pal­adin EOD unit, based out of Camp Sha­heen, south­west of the city of Mazar-e Sharif, includes six teams with three EOD tech­ni­cians. It serves as the only IED/EOD school for Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces in the coun­try.

“We have trained and val­i­dat­ed four Afghan Nation­al Army EOD teams that can now go out on their own,” Bond said. “Before they were rag-tag groups, but now they have come back with dozens of suc­cess sto­ries.”

Bond’s six-month tour in Afghanistan comes to an end in mid-Jan­u­ary, and the for­mer mid­ship­man with a bachelor’s degree in oceanog­ra­phy is set to return to his EOD Mobile Unit 1 at San Diego’s Naval Amphibi­ous Base Coro­n­a­do. He said he’s proud that his unit of 20 sailors, which also includes two sup­port per­son­nel, has main­tained their safe­ty and that of the north­ern region of Afghanistan. He’s equal­ly proud that he can leave the war-torn coun­try know­ing that trained Afghan EOD teams will use the knowl­edge and skills he taught them to pro­tect their pop­u­la­tion long after he is gone.

“Their EOD teams have exceed­ed all our expec­ta­tions,” Bond said.” It’s unbe­liev­able what they can do now on their own. Once we are gone, they can han­dle it by them­selves.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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