US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, via the US Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Mine Action programme (HMA), has facilitated four rotations of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) training to technicians of Thailand and Timor Leste last year.

The Humanitarian Mine Action programme helps to tackle the humanitarian requirements of countries affected by Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) and Unexploded Explosive Ordnance (UXO) by implementing ‘train-the-trainer’ programmes of instruction intended to develop capabilities in carrying out a range of HMA activities within the host country.

US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Humanitarian Mine Action programme director Lt. Col. Daniel Cusinato said: “The Department of Defense’s HMA programme demonstrates presence and our dedication to developing critical capabilities within the US Indo-Pacific region.

“This programme presents our EOD Marines with a unique opportunity to grow and share information with our partner nations, ultimately enhancing the indigenous capability.”

Marines and sailors from both I and III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) teamed up with members of the Timor-Leste National Police (PNTL) and the Royal Thai Military Thailand Mine Action Center (TMAC) during these rotations to develop a sustainable EOD capability via technical assistance and training.

Entry-level students are taken in for the programme, which builds them into technical-level experts capable of carrying out a wide range of tasks needed of an EOD specialist within the five-year programme.

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The I & III MEF Marines under the HMA programme carry out several rotations a year in order to continue the development of EOD specialists through classroom-based training and practical application.

Under the mentorship phase of training, marine EOD instructors choose top performing students to become the cadre who will then further be trained to become EOD instructors.

In this phase, the EOD teams also work along with partner nations to build an EOD curriculum upon which the chosen cadre will instruct under the host nation’s own EOD programme.

The HMA programme has helped in cutting down the count of UXO-related casualties and has bolstered MARFORPAC’s ability to work alongside partner nations, boost interoperability and cooperation.

Cusinato added: “The programme is mutually beneficial. HMA provides our Marines an opportunity to work alongside and learn from our partner nations and in turn develop a self-sustaining capacity to combat UXO.

“With the recent successes in developing the capacity and friendships with other nations, we are looking to expand our efforts and implement future HMA programs in other locations within the Indo-Pacific region.”