2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 10 Oct 2003 20:19:46 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] UXO Team Supports Iraq Oil Restoration
The following can be viewed online at:
UXO Team Supports Iraq Oil Restoration
By Neal Snyder
Update Editor

Removing Saddam Hussein from Iraq had cost the lives of more than 282
American service members by mid-September. Conditions remain far from
peaceful for Iraqis, soldiers and American civilians working to
establish a functioning nation.

Yet reports from Baghdad show the Army is making progress against the
environmental damage of war – and decades of neglect under the Baathist

Part of that work has been removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO)
throughout the country. Task Force Restore Iraqi Oil (RIO), the Army
Corps of Engineers team working to rebuild a key component of the
nation’s economy, found its work made even more difficult by the UXO

The U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, Ala., sent
five civilian employees and 59 specialists from two contractors to Iraq
in early April to help make the areas around the oilfields and
refineries safe for the task force.

The team worked through the summer to clear unexploded ordnance, remove
mines and booby traps, investigate sites and perform other tasks in
support of construction and rehabilitation. Mop-up operations continued
into late summer, according to Robert Nore, a program manager with the
Ordnance and Explosives Design Center, who helped direct the UXO
operation in Iraq.

“We did most of our clearance around oil well structures and pipelines
where Corps of Engineers contractors had to get in and make repairs,”
Nore said.

Expecting Saddam Hussein to set Iraq’s oil wells on fire, the team had
been designed to quickly clear enough space for firefighters to do their
jobs. Since the wells weren’t burned, the radius to be cleared around
each well was reduced from 200 meters to 10 meters, Nore said. Other
structures retained the 200 meter radius.

The team also traveled with oil field workers to help the workers avoid
ordnance wherever they went, Nore said. The remaining six members of the
UXO team continue to provide that service. They are expected to return
by the end of the year.

Although the Army has the necessary expertise to perform the mission,
giving the mission to contractors overseen by the Corps of Engineers
allows soldiers to focus on helping military forces. “Civilian support
of this type allows the warfighter to focus on combat and peacekeeping
operations,” said Dan Coberly, Huntsville Center spokesman.

The job of ordnance detection and disposal was far more straightforward
than it can be in the United States. “Pretty much everything was on the
surface,” he said. In addition, with “wide open” spaces, there were few
limits on where ordnance could be destroyed. “We could move it to a very
safe place because there were no people around,” Nore said. “We
destroyed much larger amounts of ammo in one shot.”

Variety also kept the work interesting. “We found all kinds of foreign
ordnance – the types you learn about in school but you never see them,”
Nore said. “It was sort of like an EOD [explosive ordnance disposal]
guy’s dream come true. There were grenades, mortars, any kind of
ordnance out there. Saddam got it from wherever he could.”

Team members worked 12- to 14-hour days, seven days a week. “We tried to
rest our crews one day out of the week, but that was hard to do. The
missions never stopped coming in,” Nore said.

By Aug. 11, after working 112 days, the team had cleared UXO from around
71 facilities. They widened the path through a mine field around the
road to the Rumaila oil field. They cleared almost 500 oil wells, 125
water injection wells, and about 20 kilometers of oil pipeline. They
discovered more than 46,000 items of ordnance, and destroyed 39,000 of
them. They had escorted more than 300 trips.

Personnel security and transportation were challenges in a theater with
considerable demand on military assets. In driving through villages on
the way to the oil fields, “you never could predict” how the people
would react, Nore said.

Work quickly wound down, with about half the team leaving by the end of
June, and most of the rest by the end of July.

In August, the Corps of Engineers received another mission: to oversee
the estimated $287 million disposal of captured enemy ammunition.

“Some of the same guys from our mission are going back over for their
mission,” said Nore.

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