NATO bomb disposal training now crucial part of Ukraine military support

A US Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician prepares a bomb disposal robot for zork during exercise Northern Challenge in September 2018.
A US Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician prepares a bomb disposal robot for zork during exercise Northern Challenge in September 2018. Copyright NATO
By Shona Murray
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

An annual exercise aimed at showing recruits how to get rid of explosive devices took part in Iceland.


A NATO mission training soldiers in bomb disposal, used in conflicts throughout the world, is now a crucial part of the multi-national exercises supporting the Ukrainian military.

Explosive ordnance disposal - or EOD - involves the location, identification, render safe, and disposal of dangerous unexploded conventional, chemical and biological and improvised explosives, often hidden in innocuous places designed to lay a trap for soldiers and bomb disposal teams.

For over 20 years Northern Challenge has been an annual Icelandic Coast Guard-led exercise. This year it involved 16 nations, over 400 participants, including the US Marine Corps.

"Here we're trying to give all the EOD teams the experience of real-life scenarios that are occurring worldwide in a training environment, so they can learn what those environments are, how to defeat them safely, and ensure the safety of their fellow troops," US Marine Corp EOD Officer, Thomas Jones, told Euronews.

"A lot of times in Iraq or Afghanistan it would be very basic homemade type things, whereas today we're seeing more conventional munitions employed in an improvised manner.

"The threat stays the same, and the way that we treat a lot of those stays the same."

The nature of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine means a huge number of troops are not professional infantrymen and women, but regular Ukrainian civilians forced to fight for the future of their country.

But Sean Heaton, a commander in charge of the programme from the UK's Royal Navy, said in an interview that the lack of frontline experience is compensated by the motivation of recruits to fight for their lives.

"I've trained quite a lot of Ukrainians in the last 12-18 months. These people are fighting for their lives - it doesn't matter what they did before. They think way differently than we do," Heaton told Euronews. 

"We're preparing for something; they're fighting for their lives. Their willingness and desire to learn as quickly as they can so they can go back home and either save lives or protect lives or ultimately push Russia back out of their country - there's no greater impetus than that."

Meanwhile, NATO defense ministers will meet in Brussels this week, with Rustem Umerov, the newly-appointed Ukrainian Defence Minister also in attendance. 

The consistent supply of weapons remains a key concern for Ukraine, particularly after the commitment to continue support was removed from a bill in US Congress aimed at avoiding a government shutdown.

Share this articleComments

You might also like

The New EU Pact on Migration and Asylum will erode universal human rights. Not in our name

Interest in EU elections on the rise as polls project unprecedented shift to the right

Israel-Hamas war: Tensions flare across EU ahead of leaders' summit