Blog Archive


When people talk about the legacy of unexploded remnants of war (ERW) in Vietnam, they generally think about the legacy of the tonnes of unexploded ordnance (UXO) that still litter the Central Provinces of Vietnam posing a risk to the surrounding communities.

On December 5th though, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team from Peace Trees Vietnam; who is undergoing training and mentoring from Golden West Humanitarian Foundation as part of the Golden West IMAS EOD Training program, were responding to an item of ordnance that was unfamiliar to them.

The Golden West IMAS EOD program has developed mainly from the successful, and ongoing program in the Solomon Islands since 2011. Reacting to the ERW legacy of the Second World War, the Royal Solomon Police Force have been trained to be able to respond efficiently and safely to EOD tasks dealing with both American and Japanese UXO from the major battles that were conducted on the Islands.

From the extensive experience that the Golden West Technical Advisors have gained working in all post-conflict theatres, they were able to identify the item as a 1940’s vintage, live, Japanese Type 89 50mm “knee mortar”. Fully fuzed and dangerous, the UXO was safely dealt with by the Peace Trees EOD team.

Luck has it that on the same day, Golden West and Peace Tree’s were visited by Emma Atkinson, Project Manager of the U.S. Dept. of State, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA), who funds the ongoing work that Peace Tree’s and Golden West are conducting in Vietnam. WRA also funds the Golden West project in the Solomon Islands.

The disposal of this older item continues to show that the direct impact of the donor’s support, goes beyond dealing with the legacy of the better known conflicts that have affected the people of Vietnam; and this continual support and commitment is greatly appreciated by the affected communities and WRA’s partner organizations.

1940s Japanese Type-89 50mm "Knee Mortar"

December 5th 2016

A tri-partite Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) was signed in Dong Ha, Quang Tri Province between Golden West Humanitarian Foundation, Quang Tri Provincial Military Command and Quang Tri Department of Foreign Affairs. The MOU begins a three-year training and mentoring program to enhance and professionalize the capacity of the Provincial Military in Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Response. This training and mentoring complements the ongoing efforts by other NGOs and the local Government in dealing with the legacy of war that is littered across the landscape and hinders development as well as the daily risk to life.

The Golden West EOD training is based on the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) and follows a format of training and “live” mentoring to ensure the safest and most efficient approach to dealing with unexploded ordnance (UXO) to a recognized international standard. The program is already in its second year in Quang Binh and Ha Thin provinces, again supporting building the sustainable EOD capacity of the Provincial Military Command.

The national IMAS EOD Training Program is fully funded by the U.S. Department of State, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA). The signing ceremony was graced by the WRA Program Manager, Mrs. Emma Atkinson who is responsible for all of the U.S. State Department support to Humanitarian Mine Action in Vietnam. The continual support from the donor is highly appreciated by all involved parties.

On July 13 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Golden West brought together representatives from the Kingdom’s military at the Sunway Hotel for a daylong seminar in general best practices relating to ammunition surveillance and accounting procedures. The seminar was opened with remarks by Lt. General Son Kim Sorn of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) on the programs actions and successes over the last 2 years. The remainder of the day was presentations on progress of the program and future goals along with reinforcement of general best practices for PSSM activities across Cambodia according to IATG guidelines. Attendees were given copies of the current RCAF Ammunition Management SOP for review and will work with Golden West advisers on amendments to make it workable within Cambodia, inline with IATG guidelines for efficient ammunition management practices.

During the month of June, Golden West’s Vietnam Office provided logistics and coordination for the 3rd of 5 phases of the US PACOM Underwater Humanitarian Mine Action training program with the Vietnam People’s Navy(VPN) in Nha Trang conducted by the US Navy’s EOD MU5. Areas of training for this phase included Marine Search and Rescue, EOD Underwater Removal and Disposal, and treatment of dive medical issues along with technical hands on training for equipment donated to the VPN from PACOM. Golden West looks forward to continuing to provide support to this and other HMA trainings in Vietnam and Cambodia in the future.

The first International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Weapon Contamination (WeC) training in Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia was held at the Golden West Applied Technologies Training Centre (ATTC) from 16 to 20 November.

The successful training saw 19 participants from the ICRC, many in senior management positions in current and post-conflict affected countries, receive an insight into the nature of conventional explosive weapons, and the complexity in working in environments that are affected by explosive remnants of war and / or landmines.

The training objectives were to provide ICRC staff with tools and methodologies allowing for the organisation to provide an integrated response to the humanitarian needs issuing from contamination by conventional weapons, as well as for how to continue implementing safely its humanitarian mandate in a contaminated environment.

It is indeed necessary for ICRC delegates to have an understanding of the different hazards that are impacting on both their work and the wellbeing of the civilian population, and also options for responsive action to allow them to conduct their operations safely.

Golden West provided technical support during the interactive and engaging week, with technical presentations and explosive demonstrations, as well as introductions to options for first response operational activities.

The attendees benefitted from being able to see the variety of Free From Explosive materials held at the ATTC, utilizing the broad technical, operational and management experiences of the Golden West staff, while being able to have full use of the facilities for their practical sessions.

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), who is partnered with Golden West, also gave an important overview on the Humanitarian Mine Action work that is currently being conducted in country. The Cambodian Red Cross Society also contributed by sharing its experience in delivering WeC related activities for several decades.

On the 19th of September Lee Moroney, Project Manager at Golden West Humanitarian Foundation and Lieutenant General Son Kimsorn of the, General Department of Materials and Technical of the Ministry of National Defense, organized a seminar on Arms Security and Management for executive level officers from the Military and Gendarmerie in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In attendance were over 16 One to Four Star Generals who are the key decision makers within their commands.

After a welcome address from H.E. General Phoung Siphan, Under Secretary of State Ministry of National Defence, Lieutenant General Son Kimsorn shared on the recent history of efforts in Cambodia for arms control and security and then presented highlights from his trip to Croatia where he attended the Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction (RASR) workshop in May of this year. Focus was put on the important benefits of regional cooperation for Arms Control and Disarmament, for which there is a much-needed focus within the ASEAN context.

The remainder of the morning presentations was focused on the core emphasis of the seminar “Ammunition Life Cycle Management – Surveillance and in-service proof”. Much interest was given to the presentations made by Lee Moroney on the importance of ammunition and explosive surveillance and in-service proof as an integral process for good life cycle management. This ultimately enhances the safe storage practices in accordance with the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATG) that help to prevent Unplanned Explosions in Munitions Sites (UEMS) and the illicit diversion of ammunition and explosives. With the support from the United States Department of State, Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA), the next project year shall continue to work on the capacity building of the practitioners to allow them to conduct the practices presented during the seminar.

Golden West has partnered with Villanova University as part of the US Dept. of State Global Engineering Initiative to develop a low cost EOD robot in an effort to make these life-saving tools available to the developing world. National Geographic recently interviewed Allen Tan, Director of Golden West’s Design Lab and Garrett Clayton, Associate Professor from the Mechanical Engineering Department at Villanova University. To learn more about the impact that robotics is having on removing UXO and ERW check out this article from The Guardian.

A photo exhibition in the Solomon Island by SafeGround is highlighting the current situation of UXO on the islands and the impacts it has on the community. Golden West continuies to support the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force(RSIPF) as they locate and clear ordnance around the islands with funding from the Office of Weapons Removal & Abatement, US State Department.

After the stockpile management refresher course held in January 2015, the Golden West Project Manager for Physical Security & Stockpile Management (PSSM) & his counterpart from the Ministry of National Defence paid visits to units around Cambodia to follow-up on the principles of safe ammunition storage practices that were taught during the weeklong course. During his travels to the provinces, including Battambang, Preah Vihear and Ream, the management team met with members of the Army, Navy and Air Force and toured their munition storage facilities. The goal of these visits was to assess the implementation of PSSM best practices so far, and advise on further improvements. During these visits Mr. Moroney (GWHF PM) & Lt Gen Son Kimsorn presented several of the munition storage facilities with much needed fire extinguishers donated through the US State Department PM/WRA grant. RCAF plays a critical part in supplying unusable munitions to the Golden West Explosive Harvesting Program which has to date produced over 360,000 humanitarian demining charges which have been used across Cambodia.

A select number of Ammunition Specialists from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) attended a one week long Ammunition Management refresher course at the Golden West Advanced Technology Training Centre (ATTC) in Kampong Chnnang, Cambodia.

As part of the USDoS PM/WRA funded project; the students received concise lessons on Ammunition Management best practices in line with the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATG). With subjects ranging from safe storage principles, to ammunition accounting, transportation and inspection of ammunition; the students are able to return back to their places of work and begin putting in place the activities that are required to allow them to store their ammunition with greater security and safety. In turn these activities will decrease the risk of an accidental explosion that would have serious humanitarian effects.

The RCAF are essential partners in providing unserviceable and aged ammunition to the Explosive Harvesting Program (EHP) which provides demolition charges through its innovative explosives supply solution that helps saves lives and cuts costs normally associated with humanitarian demining.