Golden West Humanitarian Foundation | Unexploded Ordnance
Sharing our expert knowledge through short term training missions or longer-term capacity building is a pride and passion of Golden West. Our methods are built upon developing key relationships with local stakeholders at all levels. Tuition methods focus on training our national counterparts so that when we leave, nothing of value goes with us.
To complement and better enable our trainers, Golden West has put in place supporting infrastructure in Cambodia and Vietnam, two countries heavily contaminated by landmines and UXO. These facilities were primarily designed to support in-country national partners; however, Golden West has expanded its use to train ASEAN neighbors and international agencies such as the ICRC.
Golden West’s training has traditionally centered around EOD. However, to meet with demand from partners worldwide, we’ve also developed a robust training capability in PSSM. With these two training sections, Golden West is well placed to ensure safety and proficiency across the spectrum of ammunition handling, storage, and destruction.
Rural communities in the Solomon Islands are regularly discovering dangerous items of UXO left over from World War Two. Golden West worked to support the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) in developing a homegrown and sustainable EOD capability training and mentoring a total of 8 Officers.
Today, long after Golden West completed this capacity-building project, the RSIPF continues to safely and efficiently conduct UXO collection and destruction for communities they protect and serve.
International support to deal with the legacies of war in Vietnam are primarily focused on clearance given the scale of contamination remaining. Golden West bolsters this effort by providing training and sharing new technologies with international and national agencies alike to improve safety and efficiency in operations.
In addition, our approach incorporates a ‘downrange’ element to develop a sustainable, national resource by working with Provincial Military Command’s (PMC’s) who will be tasked to conduct remaining clearance once international support concludes. While Golden West’s footprint on the ground is small, our long term impact will be significant and sustained.
Golden West’s EOD orientated capacity building in Cambodia began back in 2005; however, our PSSM capacity building commenced much later in 2014. Since then, working with the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), Golden West has destroyed over 80 tons of obsolete and unserviceable munitions, quickly improving facilities’ safety across the Kingdom.
In parallel, Golden West built relations with RCAF’s Technical Military Academy and together developed a new SOP for national ammunition management. To ensure sustainability, a cadre of eight RCAF Instructors have also been tutored by Golden West to ensure international standards and best practices are maintained over time.
Blending Golden West’s EOD and PSSM training capabilities, our Technical Advisors worked closely with the Peruvian Army to identify, move, and destroy obsolete and unserviceable munitions held in national stockpiles. This mission was completed within a limited timeframe with 33 Army students trained in Demolition Range Safety/Operation, and over 32,000 pieces of ordnance were destroyed – equivalent to 28 tons.
Golden West has undertaken numerous missions such as this. With capability and equipment positioned across the globe, we can move swiftly to assist partner nations.
The ATTC is a multi-purpose training facility Golden West has developed in conjunction with Cambodia’s largest clearance operator, the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC). Cambodia provides an excellent location for this facility, given its substantial and varied landmine and UXO contamination, low operational costs, and natural beauty.
Such is the contamination profile, Golden West has access to an almost unlimited quantity of landmines, airdropped and ground fired munitions, and fuzes for training, RSP, and demolition purposes. Over the years, many cutaway munition training aids have also been produced to enhance training courses further.
Initially created to ensure that CMAC’s EOD operators became some of the best in the business, this facility has various ranges for EOD training and explosive testing. As the site has been enhanced over the years, detection lanes containing five different soil types, with 60+ mines per lane and natural clutter, have been created to teach detection techniques. Further, Golden West has worked with detector manufacturers at the site to evaluate and refine new shallow and deep search detection equipment in a controlled and safe environment.
As well as the long term capacity building of CMAC at the ATTC, Golden West has also conducted courses for students from neighboring ASEAN countries and international agencies such as the ICRC. The ATTC and Golden West stand ready to support the mine action and EOD community.
Mark entered the US Marine Corps in January 1979 and subsequently deployed to South and Central America, Asia, and Africa. Notably, Mark participated in Operation Al-Fajr in Iraq and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia and served 27 years retiring a Master Gunnery Sergeant.
Mark remained in the EOD community, completing posts as a Health and Safety Officer in Iraq, a Quality Control and Health and Safety in the USA, a Project Manager in Cuba and the Solomon Islands, and as a Country Director in Vietnam. Mark utilizes this diverse wealth of knowledge and experience as Golden West’s Chief of Training.