Cherry Point's bomb robots helping save lives

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A remote-control robot from Cherry Point's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team approaches a fake artillery shell during a demonstration last week.

Drew C. Wilson/Havelock News
Published: Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 01:01 AM.

Improvised explosive devices have killed and maimed thousands of U.S. service members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the number is decreasing today thanks to the use of robots to detect and diffuse the bombs.

"We deal with everything from small arms caches to all kinds of IEDs that can be initiated by pressure switch to a radio command," Gunnery Sgt. Bernard Coyne, of Cherry Point’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team. "Whatever they’ve come up with, we’ve dealt with it in theater."

The team, which has been on the front lines of the fight, opened its doors last week to demonstrate three of its most capable tools, radio- and fiber optic-controlled robots.

"I’ve used them both in Iraq and Afghanistan," Coyne said of the different robots. "They both have pros and cons. The down side of it is you don’t want to be sitting there for a long time because then you become a sitting target. The big advantage is that we’re far away from it when it’s doing any actions."

Coyne said many military explosives personnel have been killed doing the same kind of work that the robots do now.

"Losing a robot is just ordering a replacement," he said. "Most of the time, if they’ve been blown up, they can be repaired. On one, we only had to replace a claw. If it was a person working on it, they probably would have been killed at that range.

"We’ve dealt with anything from conventional munitions to pressure cookers to plastic jugs filled with homemade explosives. It’s whatever the bombmaker can think of. Every call is different."



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