Thursday, April 28, 2011

EOD Book Review: Bomb Hunters - In Afghanistan with Britain's Elite Bomb Disposal Unit

Bomb Disposal within Taliban Crosshairs:
IEDs are the weapon of choice for terrorists and insurgents from Afghanistan to Ireland. Among the best in the business of defusing these horrific devices are the Ammunition Technical Officers of the British Army’s Royal Logistic Corps. Commonly called “ATOs,” they are the equivalent of what Americans refer to as Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technicians or “EOD Techs.”

In Bomb Hunters, former British para-turned journalist Sean Rayment tells the story of Royal Engineer Search Teams (REST) that locate IEDs, the “bleeps” that jam the electronic spectrum to prevent radio-controlled detonations, the ATOs who take “the long walk” to disrupt, defuse, or render safe IEDs, and the weapons intelligence specialists who collect post-blast information that can lead to the bomber or bomb-maker. Rayment specifically focuses on counter-IED efforts in Helmand province in Afghanistan based on several visits there between August 2008 and March 2010.

Rayment relays in vivid detail the challenges of bomb disposal while enveloped in unbearable heat and operating – literally –  within Taliban crosshairs. The heroism described through Bomb Hunters, including one ATO disarming IEDs with one hand after his dominant hand is broken, and the somber remembrance of several ATOs who made the ultimate sacrifice, will humble any reader. The book also includes several accounts of direct action between British soldiers and the Taliban before, during, after, and outside of counter-IED operations. Perhaps Rayment’s most salient and interesting account is not of bomb disposal, but of a sophisticated ambush derived from the British study and analysis of Taliban tactics vis-a-vis medical evacuations via helo.

Bomb Hunters is another important book on the war on terrorism that will prove invaluable to soldiers, historians, and the friends and family of disposaleers who served so honorably in Helmand Province.

No comments: