Inside the Hurt Locker
Improvised explosive devices (IEDs), also known as roadside bombs pose the greatest threat to allied forces in Afghanistan. Interest in these deadly weapons has increased recently thanks to the Oscar-winning film, The Hurt Locker, which follows staff sergaent and bomb technician William James (Jeremy Renner) and his team, searching out IEDs in Iraq. Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) Troop Commander and Dalhousie engineering graduate, Lieutenant Caroline Pollock discuses the film and the work done by EOD troops with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan.
Lt. Caroline Pollock leads a troop of 20 soldiers, broken down into teams scattered in the area of operations within Kandahar Province. One of these teams is responsible for conducting and co-ordinating mentorship with the Afghan National Army’s EOD troop at Camp HERO near Kandahar Airfield. Her counter IED sub-unit is responsible for deploying teams to support battle groups and training forces in the skills required to counter the threat of IEDs.
Detecting IEDs is usually done visually while conducting a “vulnerable point search” – such as a culvert, bridge, intersection, etc. Soldiers look for combat indicators – signs that an IED is placed in a certain area, and the employment of a mine detector helps to delineate where an IED might be placed.
Lt. Pollock says dealing with these stresses takes a strong, type- A personality, an intelligent and confident team player. In her down time, she tries to stay in shape by working out at the gym and running road races. She also enjoys reading and knitting.
The work of the Canadian Forces and Afghan soldiers helps protect civilians as well. Ground forces discover or confirm an IED – sometimes based on a tip from a local national – and provide security while the team works to disarm the bomb. Depending on the type of IED, this can protect locals from accidentally setting off the device.
"There are similarities. (It's the) same bomb suit, work is done in a team, robots are used for investigation, render safe and exploitation of IEDs where possible (and) teams go out with a Quick Reaction Force." Lt. Caroline Pollock, Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) Troop Commander and Dalhousie engineering graduate.
"I have not met any EOD operators that are cross-trained as snipers." Lt. Caroline Pollock, Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) Troop Commander and Dalhousie engineering graduate.
"In some regions, the local Taliban are less concerned about collateral damage, meaning they place IEDs with out discriminating against the target." Lt. Caroline Pollock, Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) Troop Commander and Dalhousie engineering graduate
- Billy Comeau, 902.494.6880; firstname.lastname@example.org
- For photography, contact the Associated Press.