Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Exhibit IMAS Report January 2004



IMAS Task Order No. 03-140
Iraq Mine and UXO Organization


This report covers 1-31 January 2003.


This Task Order 03-140 requires RONCO to create an indigenous Iraqi mine clearance organization including all training and equipment.  Further to provide technical support to this organization once it becomes fully operational.


Action        Scheduled Completion    Actual Completion
SLIN E Clearance and BAC Operations    7 January 2004    7 January 2004
SLIN F Clearance and BAC Operations    7 February 2004    TBD
SLIN Q EOD Level III Training    15 December 2003    TBD


a.  Construction:  We are completing the reconstruction on additional buildings in the camp used for personnel housing and office space including force protection/security improvements to the team house.  We are also supporting NMAA by assisting them in refurbishing various buildings in an unused area of the camp for living quarters / office space to support the NMAA/RONCO international Staff.  We have completed construction of the new explosive bunker inside the base camp.

b.  RONCO Staff Arrivals:  Mr. Derryberry arrived on 18 Jan 04 and William Endly (TA) on 27 Jan 04.

c.  Training:

1)  Dog Handler:  During this period Mr. Conrad and Mr. Derryberry conduct handover.  Mr. Derryberry is preparing the dogs for final certification with emphasis on being able to conduct QA on bomb strikes as we have yet to have minefields available for clearance.  Mr. Derryberry is redoing all of the training minefields for certification and preparing the dogs for work outside the base camp.  We anticipate using the dogs for QA within the next 30 days.

2)  EOD Level III Training:  Preparations are complete, but training will be delayed pending the outcome of the recent personnel reshuffle.

d.  Operations:

1)  Operations continued at the campus of the Baghdad Agriculture College. The college is a mixed use campus with over 4000 students and faculty.  It was targeted during the war because the Iraqi military was using it to base helicopters.  It receive a BLU 97 strike which impact in both the glass and plastic covered greenhouses resulting in these critical areas being unavailable to students and in fact they could not even be safely repaired.  Further some of the fields were targeted with M42 sub-munitions.   Security on this site has remained intact and no problems have been encountered in this regard.  One section of three teams, is working this site.  Though the majority of this site is a surface sweep tasking, the subsurface grid system is being conduct in those areas of suspected subsurface contamination (strike footprints).

Set up for Demo in Hoop Green Houses    Emplacing Perforator

Post Destruction of two BLU 97s in Hoop Green Houses
We have found both M42s and BLU 97s sub surface; in fact we found one BLU 97 at 25cm.  In the glass green houses workers found two BLUs.  The first was hidden in a bush vine and lying in a corner of the metal foundation for the glass, but should have been picked up by the search teams.  This occurred because the dean of the college started working in the greenhouses against our recommendations and before internal QA had been performed.  The second was found when removing a pile of loose dirt.  This incident occurred after subsurface search, but the again the BLU was lying against the foundation of the glasswork and on top of rebar reinforced concrete.  Because of the metal in the area we assess this BLU as beyond the capabilities of the detector to find.  Both BLUs were successfully moved and destroyed.  This highlights the difficulty of this task.  To ensure that this does not occur again, all loose soil in the green house is being turned in conjunction with college work force.  The worker turns the soil while our deminer checks with a Schonstadt every 3-5 cms.

BLU 97 With Clips Attached For Remote Pull

Drag Trail Of BLU 97 After Remote Pull    BLU 97 In The Hole It Was Dragged Into

BLU 97 Sandbagged For Destruction

BLU 97 With Perforator Prepared For Destruction

Post Destruction View Of Sandbagged Demo Pit.  Note:  Panes Of Glass 15 Meters Away Were Not Damaged.

Due to the M42 being in a wheat field that requires, that the wheat be cleared, this site is taking much longer than anticipated.  This area is also useful as a training site on subsurface clearance and burning.  Burning continues to be less than successful with the current wet conditions even after spraying diesel as an accelerant.

2)  Lastly, we have been working a non-humanitarian site at Tadji west.  This site is a former ASP which is heavily contaminated after numerous and varied munitions were burned and unsuccessfully detonated by US military units.  The site is secure and serves as an excellent training ground because the wide variety of munitions including basically all the types of air and missile munitions in country.  Further it helps Tadji (who has been extremely helpful as both our bulk explosives storage area and bulk safe UXO turn in point) and lastly and most importantly keeps up our momentum.  This is a long term task that we will continue to work until security teams are available.  Once they are available we will work it as time permits and as a training site.

The Photos Above Show the Condition Of The Site And The Wide Variety Of Ordnance.  The Next Series Of Photos Show Before And After Of Some Of The Sub-Sites Within Tadji West.

3) Statistics:
Clearance for the Month of January 2004
Demining    Surface    Sub-Surface    Mines Found    UXO Found
0    346,425    52,400    0    25,031

3.  Issues:

a.  Security:  Security continues to be driving operations.  Clearance work continues at the secured site “agriculture university” and Tasji sites until the local security teams are available; anticipated after the Hadj.  The recent VIED at the “Assassin Gate” checkpoint leading into the “Green Zone” has raised additional security concerns for both our Iraqi and International staff.  To reduce the threat there we are now having a majority of the deminers meet us at the task site and departing the camp 30 minutes earlier to avoid the prime target time.  Checkpoints continue to be an issue even with the DOD CAC cards.  We are in contact with 2nd BCT to try and come up with a solution as having our people wait outside the checkpoints to be searched for up to 1.5 hours puts them at too high a risk to be acceptable.

b.  Personnel Issues:  The news of the R&R payments was well received, but the general consensus is that 120 days is too long without a break given local conditions in Iraq.  Also note that if the contract is for a year, the numbers don’t work out, i.e.:  360 days worked plus 42 days out is a total of 402 days?  What is the guidance for implementation which better reflects the need to rotate team members out at a maximum of 90 days +/- and at least occasionally for more than 14 days? Insisting on 120 days and only total of 14 days out will lead to loss efficiency and dramatic decline in morale.  I previously requested an additional TA assigned specifically for rotation which would allow us to continuously rotate people to ensure optimum team efficiency and morale.  Also with my departure and Don’s departure we will not have the 6 TAs we were promised for EOD III.  Request the Canadian, Mike mentioned be hired for EOD III and to allow the rotation previously discussed.  Please advise as to who is the replacement task leader as it is under three weeks until my departure.

c.  Death Threats Against Local Staff:  The IMCO director currently has a security guard at his house.  The guard also escorts his daughter to school.  We have been looking for housing for the director and several translators with in the green zone, but to date this continues to be a problem.

d.  Checkpoints:  See Above.

4.  Lessons Learned:

a.  Sub-Surface Clearance In Greenhouse Or Other Areas Which Have Loose Soil As Well As Significant Structural Metal:  During the clearance of the green houses in the agricultural college BLU 97s were missed because the detector was unable to discriminate between the ordnance and the surrounding metal in the flooring/structure.  Recommend that when clearing these types of structures all dirt be removed/turned to the flooring or to a depth of 25 cms.

b.  Leave Planning:  Historically we have not deliberately planned leave.  Increasingly, and especially in places such as Iraq, this will become increasingly important for long term sustainment of personnel on the project.  This is especially true of places like Iraq were international staff have, literally, no where to go and are living on top of each other 7 days a week.  The current R&R granted by DOS is certainly a significant step forward, but it specifies a 120 day rotation for a 14 day R&R.  I do not believe this allows for sustainment of the individuals as a whole.  The consensus with in the IMCO side of the new task order 04-153 supports this.  I believe that a more realistic R&R rotation is 90 days and each second leave period allow for a full three weeks at the leave destination.  These are of course generalities and individuals will want to take more or less leave, but by planning for a realistic rotation we create the flexibility to support the TAs in the field.  Recommend that leave/R&R be part of the deliberate planning process for all tasks and especially locations such as Iraq and that, especially with large projects, additional TAs be earmarked for the project to allow for a rotation of TAs ensuring that there is no loss of billable hours and that TAs are given enough time on leave to remain at peak effectiveness.

Task Leader

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