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At Golden West Humanitarian Foundation our technical staff each have over 20 years of EOD experience making them some of the most capable operators. This is all the more evident when they are confronted with abnormal conditions and situations. Under these circumstances, their expertise comes to the fore, enabling them to plan and execute complex operations to precision.

One such operation took place in the Solomon Islands, Guadalcanal, where Golden West Humanitarian Foundation has been working with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force to strengthen the Island’s national EOD reponse capacity. As well as shaping the EOD response team into a cohesive, skilled and experienced team, the Golden West Project Leaders attached to the unit have trained them to internationally recognized standards in EOD and advanced EOD techniques.

On the 15th May, a report was received of a M-43 500lb located in a remote area in Guadalcanal surrounded by cliffs and heavy vegetation with no clear route in with vehicles. After an initial reconaissance and a sitrep performed by the EOD team, planning could begin. On the 16th May, the team, equipped with appropriate equipment and pertinent top-up training from Golden West’s Director of Field Operations, Roger Hess, that highlighted potential conditions this particular ordnance could be in, the team set off to the ordnance. Due to deteriorating road state, the team travelled by foot for the last 4km through arduous terrain.

River cross 2a

Upon assessing the situation of the bomb, Roger Hess decided that it must be relocated to a safer area for disposal. The team then had to lift the bomb to a suitable area using a carrying sling. An appropriate area was located 100m from the location, which took 30minutes due to the uneven terrain. Once the bomb was in a place where the chance of injury to nearby villages was negated, Golden West Humanitarian Foundation’s proprietary NMD was set up to render it safe.

The mission was a complete success that tested the training and endurance of the RSIPF team. The RSIPF program is made possible through generous support from the US Department of State, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, AusAid and Japan Official Development Assistance.

Position 4a

Macca Selli and Bomb

The Marshall Islands saw conflict during World War II and still bear the scars and remnants of war from these battles. Set deep in the Northern Pacific and only accessible by long boat journeys, the majority of it’s atolls have been difficult to reach efficiently and within budget for ordnance clearance and remediation. Thanks to Golden West Humanitarian Foundation’s extensive research and development program an affordable approach was available that could enable fast and effective removal of ordnance on some of the most contaminated atolls.

July 2013 saw a Golden West Humanitarian Foundation team deploy to two atolls; Mili and Maloelap in the Marshall Islands. The team was led by Len Austin, the Chief of EOD Operations with Golden West. Joining him were members from two Golden West trained teams: the Cambodian CMAC/Golden West EOD specialists and selected members of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force EOD team. Each of the team members were highly skilled and experienced, having undergone years of training with Golden West’s team of training staff.

Joining the teams was the Golden West designed “Island Hopper Package”, specifically designed to enable teams to easily move from island to island with the specific tools they need. The Island Hopper consists of transport and logistics tools, ordnance remediation and cutting tools and everything the teams need to operate effectively on these islands.

Golden West Marshall Islands-6

The operation followed an earlier survey conducted by Len Austin that identified the areas that could use the specialist assistance of the team. The survey and subsequent planning ensured that the operation was a success- the team worked diligently in many different environments, managing to locate and destroy many pieces of ordnance. Overall, the team located and made safe close to 200 ordnance items, many of which were of a very large size, up to over 600lb.

Golden West Marshall Islands-16

Thanks to the funding of the U.S Department of State, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM-WRA), Golden West Humanitarian Foundation was able to make the Islands of Mili and Taroa safer places for its inhabitants.

Further Information

Golden West Humanitarian Foundations unique projects were featured in two recent DIPNote (Department of State official blog) entries. The first referred to our Golden West Design Lab and its unique work to improve the standard and portability of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) training aids around the world. This project was exhibited at the USA Science and Engineering Fair in the US Department of State exhibit. To learn more about this project visit the AOTM website or read the DIPnote entry.

The next Golden West Cambodia project to be profiled is the unique Explosive Harvesting Program. Based in Kampong Chnang, Cambodia, the Explosive Harvesting Program takes surplus and unexploded ordnance and processes it to produce explosive charges that are custom designed to destroy landmines. These humanitarian demining charges are distributed free of charge to Humanitarian Mine Action Organisations around Cambodia. To date, over 300,000 of these charges have been produced and used in the field.

The final project to be highlighted was the CMAC Dive Unit and its recent dive unit opening. The Cambodia Mine Action Centre dive unit will be an important national asset, providing Underwater Ordnance Remediation capabilities across the country and region. For more information about the EHP click here, about the Dive team, click here and to read the DIPnote entry about these projects click here

On Sunday the 27th April, the CMAC Dive Team participated in the annual Mekong River Swim to compete with some 120 entrants to cross the Mekong just north of Phnom Penh.

In February 2013 none of the team could swim with any proficiency, but thanks to the intensive training schedule with their Golden West Humanitarian Foundation Dive Technical Advisor Robert Rice they were able to compete with the best swimmers in Cambodia. The event consisted of a 800m crossing of the Mekong, competing against currents, waves and each other. The team each beat their personal bests for 800m by at least 3 minutes and received very respectable times.

To read more about the event, see the following links:

Mekong River Swim Webpage

Phnom Penh Post article

Golden West Humanitarian Foundation will be exhibiting at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington DC at the Walter E. Washington Convention Centre.

If you are at the Festival, we encourage you to drop by our stall at the National Security Pavilion, Hall B, State Department Section, Booth #1645. This is not similar to playing games in cool cat casino sites such as this http://www.coolcatcasinous.com/. We will have some of our training products on display as well as interactive activities for all ages.

Read more about the work that Golden West has been doing with assistance from the US Department of State on the official Department of State blog DIPnote here:

DIPNOTE

On the 3rd April, Golden West Humanitarian Foundation and CMAC hosted around one hundred delegates from the US embassy, the national press and mine action partners. The day marked the ceremonial opening of the CMAC Dive Unit and standing up of the CMAC Dive Team. It also provided an opportunity for Humanitarian Mine Action Organizations working in Cambodia to demonstrate their various initiatives in operation countrywide.

The event was held at CMAC and Golden West headquarters in Kampong Chnang. As well as representatives from the major mine action organizations, the day was graced with the presence of the U.S Ambassador, H.E William Todd, the Secretary General of CMAA, H.E Chum Bunrong and a number of other Excellencies.

The day started with speeches from Allen Tan (Country Director- Cambodia) H.E Heng Ratana (DG CMAC) H.E William Todd and finally H.E Chum Bunrong. The speeches highlighted the ever present need for humanitarian ERW clearance in Cambodia and praised the new capabilities that would be provided by Cambodia’s first UXO Salvage Dive Team. The speeches were followed with awards showing recognition from the country of Cambodia for US dignitaries and the following Golden West staff for their hard work in the process of creating the CMAC dive team: Allen Tan, Len Austin, Rob Rice, Marcel Durocher, Reaksmey Chan, Heang Sambo and Thong Khean.

Following the awards, the newly refitted Dive Building was opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony and the inaugural ringing of the Dive Unit Bell (donated by Golden West) by the dignitaries. After a brief tour of the impressive features of the dive unit, a press conference was held.

The delegates were then shown to demonstrations from NPA with the CMAC dog teams and the NPA Cluster Munition Survey team, MAG for the mechanical clearance demonstration, HALO for the HSTAMIDS detection demo and finally Golden West for an EHP tour. The US ambassador expressed great interest in the EHP recycling process and was even more impressed to see the results when he triggered the first demolition of the day, an anti-personnel landmine destroyed using the Golden West 100g Humanitarian Demining Charge. The second landmine was triggered by the young son of a United States Embassy employee, much to his and his father’s delight.

The pride and recognition of Cambodia for its first UXO Salvage Dive Team was made most apparent on the day and the festivities marked the occasion in a suitably impressive fashion.

Additional Information

Awards given to staff:

  • Allen Tan, Country Director- Cambodia : Royal Order of Sahametrei Commander
  • Len Austin, Chief of EOD Operations: Royal Order of Sahametrei Commander
  • Rob Rice, Chief of Dive Operations: Royal Order of Sahametrei Officer
  • Marcel Durocher, Chief of Detection Operations: Royal Order of Sahametrei Officer
  • Sambo Heang, Detection Operations Officer: Royal Order of Sowathra Officer
  • Thong Khean, EOD Operations Officer: Royal Order of Sowathra Officer
  • Reaksmey Chan, Senior Accounting Manager Asia Pacific: Royal Order of Sowathra Officer

Information Regarding awards:

Royal Order of Sahametrei
Cambodian Honours System

Event Coverage:

The Cambodia Daily
US Ambassador to Cambodia’s Blog

Golden West Humanitarian Foundation was featured on an episode of Channel News Asia’s “A Singaporean Abroad“. The episode centred on Pamela Yeo from the organisation Saught, that creates innovative jewellery from remnants of war. Saught receives its raw materials from Golden West Humanitarian Foundations  Explosive Harvesting Program and transforms them into pieces of jewellery. To find out more about Saught, visit their webpage

The Guadalcanal project commenced in May 2011 with the support of the US Department of State and the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) with the main goal being to work with the Solomon Islands Police Force to train and mentor their Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team to CEN IMAS Level II. It is now recognised as one of the premier EOD programs in the South Pacific.

Guadalcanal and the surrounding Solomon Islands were the scene of heavy conflict during World War II. The remnants of this conflict are widespread contamination of Unexploded Ordnance and the threat posed by these life-threatening munitions. These WWII munitions require specific training in order to locate and eliminate. As a result, the team have been trained for CEN International Standards tailored to WWII Munitions.The training for CEN IMAS Level II was completed and the whole team graduated on  1st August 2013.

The overarching aim of the project is to establish the EOD team and the Hell’s Point Range as a central UXO training facility for personnel from all UXO contaminated islands in the South Pacific. Personnel from all of the UXO/ERW contaminated islands within the South Pacific will be able to learn the most appropriate methods to locate and destroy WWII UXO hazards. In many cases this will allow UXO clearance in areas in which it was not possible due to a lack of trained personnel.

Hellspoint-4

Project Leader Mark Lasley, Golden West EOD supervisor is coordinating the training, disposal and infrastructure improvements on site. Lasley has operational experience of supervising EOD, Humanitarian Demining and IED operations across the world and is Master Level EOD. 

In addition to the primary goals of the project, there are a number of ancillary benefits to the work in the Solomon Islands.

    • The Hell’s point range has undergone substantial developments since May 2011, with improvement to the buildings and training facilities as well as the expansion of the equipment and training aids.
    • The training is also coupled with field operations. These operations have resulted in the location and elimination of 10,000 UXO and AXO hazards since the project began. The removal operations are conducted with Golden West’s Mobile Cutting System and Small Arms Burner.Guadalcanal-4

 

    • The project has been provided with a U.S Department of Defence Badger, a mechanical clearance tool that can vastly improve clearance and operational efficiency. The team is trained in both mechanical and manual clearance techniquesGuadalcanal-6
    • Providing public safety and EOD response within greater Honiara area. Golden West and RSIPF have been responding to EOD and public safety requirements on Guadalcanal. This has not only provided great benefit to the surrounding area but also raised awareness of the EOD team in the local community.Guadalcanal-11
    • Training members of the RSIPF EOD in training and mentoring methodologies. As well as training the team in WWII munition disposal, they are also being trained and tested in mentoring. Those that excel in these skills will go on to become the training officers; providing training to personnel from the surrounding islands in South Pacific.Guadalcanal-8

The Solomon Islands Project is made possible by the following donors:

DOS-Logo-smaller-whitbg PMWRA-Logo-smaller-square Ausaidsmaller JapanGrassRoots

Golden West has been working in cooperation with Villanova University in the United States. As part of the cooperation, Golden West has had the pleasure of hosting Villanova graduate engineer Stephen Schraer. Stephen has been working in the Golden West Design Lab, Cambodia to progress its UXO detection and clearance projects across Cambodia.

In addition to his work in Cambodia, Stephen has been working with the Villanova team on a low cost ordnance disposal robot, developed to provide a capability at a more affordable cost that can be maintained in the developing world.

In July, Golden West held its second Dive Refresher Course for the graduate divers from the CMAC Diver Preparation Course. The 10 CMAC Dive team divers were once again put through a number of exercises, testing their ability to work together as a working dive station, their physical fitness, swimming ability and proficiency in diving.

The week was one of turbulent seas and heavy rain off the coast of Sihanoukville, Cambodia. This however had an unlikely benefit for the training, producing a visibility level that emulated the working conditions they could expect in Cambodia’s waterways. When they reached the bottom, the visibility was less than half a meter, meaning that their procedures and teamwork was truly tested in these disorientating conditions.

Golden West Dive Refresher Course July

The team thrived in these conditions, working safely and efficiently in the hardest conditions they had yet experienced, impressing Dive Instructors Robert Rice and Tony Langer. The transition from the beginning of the Diver Preparation course in February to this course is truly impressive. Many of the team could not swim and are now swimming and diving to a high level of proficiency. The next training session is slated for September this year.

Golden West Dive Refresher Course July