Northcom Leader Pushing for Modernization of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology
Photo: Defense Dept.
BETHESDA, Md. — The United States must modernize its explosive ordnance disposal capabilities to counter threats from advanced adversaries, the deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command said Aug. 14.
“We need to balance our EOD force to address the long-term strategic competition we face from China and Russia,” Lt. Gen. Reynold Hoover said at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Global Explosive Ordnance Disposal Symposium and Exhibition.
These competitors, along with North Korea, Iran and terrorist organizations, are developing weapons and tactics that the U.S. military hasn’t seen before, he said. Additionally, adversaries are increasingly operating in a “grey zone of conflict” below the threshold of conventional military operations, he noted.
“The strategic environment we find ourselves in today is evolving from what it had been over the past few decades,” Hoover said.
“While counterinsurgency operations are important in some of our areas of responsibility, we can’t afford to solely focus on that,” he added. “We can’t afford to make the assumption that we will always be fighting insurgents with inferior technology and equipment.”
The Defense Department must take steps to keep pace with evolving threats, he said.
“We can’t ... ignore the weapons and technology other nations are developing,” Hoover said. “If we do so we will make a mistake, and … our full-spectrum EOD capabilities and capacities will atrophy and cost lives.”
To face these challenges, the explosive ordnance disposal community will need help from industry and academia with research and development. It will also need assistance from the intelligence community, as well as civil-military cooperation and collaboration with law enforcement, Hoover said.
Threats to the homeland are increasing, he noted. The Pentagon is looking to industry to provide new innovative capabilities for joint EOD forces to enable them to act decisively during a crisis, he said.
Northcom and NORAD are responsible for defending North America. North Korea’s recent advances in nuclear and missile technologies have raised concerns about a potential WMD attack against the continental United States.
The U.S. military has defensive systems in place to shoot down incoming missiles. But if an intercontinental ballistic missile launched by North Korea were to be intercepted, pieces could fall on U.S. soil and pose a hazard, Hoover said.
“Someone has to render those pieces and parts safe, and that’s where I believe our EOD forces come in,” he said. “We can’t afford to lose the EOD skill if we’re going to stay relevant to our nation’s defense.”