There are many bonds in this world, a bond between a parent and a child, a bond between friends, and a bond between those who share difficult experiences together. Combine all of these and magnify them a thousand-fold, and you will begin to have a faint shadow of a bond that transcends language and location. This is the bond between Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) techs. It is one such bond that developed four years ago between a group of American EOD techs recently returning from Iraq and a group of Thai EOD techs who were facing their own Iraq in their home country.
At that time, a group of EOD techs bridged monumental barriers in Thailand, where even though neither side spoke the others’ language, they understood each other far deeper than those who share a common language. The Thais exchanged information with the Americans on how they were coping against a raging IED war in their country without adequate equipment and without many of the basic support systems the US techs considered vital when dealing with IEDs.
It was during one such exchange when the Thais were showing the effects against their techs that the American team made a promise to help. “We couldn’t stand to watch our brothers suffer due to poor or nonexistent equipment, equipment that in many instances can save a life.”
The team took the lessons learned from the Thais back to the US where they trained American first responders on the lessons of IEDs from first responders from Thailand. In exchange, they brought an appeal to the Americans to donate safety equipment to the Thais. The response was overwhelming. Over 7 tons of equipment was amassed in a few weeks as the result of this request.
RISC Management donated storage and transport fees to Thailand, when after two years of a paperwork battle to clear the items through the US government into Thailand, they then provided a team of trainers to close the first chapter of the keeping of a promise between EOD brothers.
Despite endless delays, mounting expenses and a growing logistic problem, the RISC team would never abandon the project. “When an EOD tech makes a promise to another EOD tech, he will see it through no matter how difficult.” It is nearly impossible for anyone else to understand the feeling of the “long walk,” where you approach the IED and possibly your own demise. Alone, step-by-step into deeper isolation and possibly annihilation, this long walk is well known by the Thai brothers, and this is the foundation that formed such a deep bond. You cannot let your EOD brother down.
So again, RISC sends a team to Thailand to not only help them with the donation items promised so long ago, but also to continue to analyze and internalize recent and relevant information on IEDs to help further prepare US first responders.
This trip was especially poignant for some RISC members as it would be their last prior to returning to temporary military duty in the Middle East. Many of the lessons learned from the Thais waging their war in the south can be integrated in US missions across multiple countries where they will be responsible for not only IED response but also training and advising over 20 nations, US Embassies and other critical agencies in the Middle East. When the Americans first came to Thailand in early 2007, they were bringing many lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan to the Thais, but now, the Thais are providing experience and training unparalleled against the increasing threat our world is facing.