Alan Higgins is a 25-year veteran of the US Marine Corps., and a highly experienced EOD operator with multiple combat tours in support of both conventional and special operations forces. He currently serves as EOD Program Manager for Federal Resources. We asked Alan to give us the current state of the EOD landscape.
“When I was coming up in EOD, the focus was on ordnance, with a small degree of training on IEDs. Now, the two have flipped, with more focus on IEDs and less on ordnance. The threats are ever-evolving. Not just IEDs, but mass-produced, assembly-line manufacture of IEDs. HME continues to be a threat, and the use of sensitive primary explosives, normally considered too sensitive for practical use, is very concerning and dangerous.
The chemical threat has re-emerged, and not only that, but so has use of homemade, improvised chemical threats. The use of locally manufactured ordnance items by terrorist organizations is also a growing concern.
IEDs were the “what-if” scenario, where now, they’re the primary weapon of our enemies. We’ve had to become electronics technicians, chemists and engineers to stay on top of the rapidly changing IED environment. The need for proper training has never been higher, and those that aren’t properly trained or fail to grasp the concepts, usually pay in blood. Technology and proper training is more important than ever before.”
The latest technology includes portable analyzers for chemical identification that incorporate a decision support system. This combination enables interactive problem solving on scene by giving responders the capability to gain actionable insights and make more informed decisions.
There are portable chemical identification analyzers that can leverage both Raman and FTIR technology to address a broader range of samples than either technique alone. These instruments can identify unknown solids and liquids, from explosives and chemical warfare agents to industrial chemicals and precursors using a comprehensive onboard library. When you integrate advanced decision support tools, an operator using could virtually mix chemicals to model safety and handling hazards, and then determine the most likely HME, CWA or narcotic formulations that could be made with the ingredients.
By virtually mixing the chemicals, the decision support software can instantly model the specific formulation while estimating the quantity that could be made. This capability provides actionable insights typically unavailable in the field today, without the support of a reach-back facility. Delay between observation and action could jeopardize the team’s ability to disrupt, dismantle and interdict suspected threat actors or networks.
Alan finished the conversation by saying:
“EOD is not a static environment, and technology will play an ever-increasing role. The EOD techs and the tools they employ will have to be smarter, faster and more reliable. Vendors that tend to rest on their laurels or fail to grasp the imperative of speed and adaptability will be left on the sidelines, observing those that comprehend the environment in which we operate.”
You can read the full interview with Alan in this white paper Technology and training critical in evolving EOD landscape and more about the technology in this technical paper Gemini analyzer with HazMasterG3 decision support system.