Gear needs hamper Romanian EOD unit on missions in Afghanistan
FORWARD OPERATING BASE LAGMAN, Afghanistan — The hardest thing for Romanian air force Staff Sgt. Marius Turenschi, an explosive ordnance technician, to do is watch his battlefield brothers roll out of the base while a lack of proper equipment keeps him from joining the mission.
Airmen with the explosive ordnance disposal branch of Romania’s 70th Aviation Engineers Regiment arrived in early July, but their training doesn’t approach American standards and their equipment is not suited to operating among rocks, dust and ditches.
"We are air force EOD," said Turenschi, 26. "We are used to operating on an air base, searching planes."
Their lone robot can climb steps, search a plane and even open overhead airplane compartments, but it is not designed for the Afghan battlefield, Turenschi said.
"No robot. That is our problem. But we are working to change that," Turenschi said, noting that the Romanians are buying equipment similar to that used by U.S. forces.
U.S. sailors from Platoon 821 of EOD Mobile Unit 8, based in Sigonella, Sicily, were asked by Romanian leaders to assess the ability of the country’s troops and equipment to operate in Afghanistan, said trainer Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Murray, 30.
"We run them through drills to assess them, the same drills we run ourselves," said Murray.
At home, the Romanians receive just four months of EOD schooling, compared to the 13 months for U.S. Navy techs. The training the Romanians get at Lagman includes classes in tactical combat casualty care, far superior to the basic life support training they received at home.
That training, in part, has enabled the Romanians to go out on the more rudimentary unexploded ordnance calls, for "only the munitions, with no wires and nothing suspicious," said Turenschi.
While their capabilities are limited, their willingness is not, Murray said.
He added: "They’re using what they have and making it work."