Ensuring Operational Readiness of EOD Operators – Section Response Training

Ensuring Operational Readiness of EOD Operators – Section Response Training

36th Battalion, Singapore Combat Engineers (36 SCE), fondly known as the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit, performs the critical role of being the national responders to any explosive incidents, and performs security sweeps for key national events such as the National Day Parade. 

To ensure that every soldier in the EOD unit stays operationally ready for any activation, the unit conducts regular Section Response Training (SRT) to maintain the proficiency and operational readiness of the EOD operators. 

As a EOD Team Commander, 3WO Er values these training opportunities. "The training builds the team's synergy and readiness for operations. No operation is the same. It can be the same explosive, but presents itself in different situations or environments. Constantly upgrading our skills and knowledge is key to our success, embodying our motto "Towards Perfection"."

Reminiscing his past experience in the unit, 3WO Er shares how he had to dispose a 100kg Japanese aerial bomb. "During my first week of standby duty as a Team Commander, I was activated to dispose a 100kg Japanese aerial bomb. I did not expect such a big ordnance in my first disposal. But I had an experienced team with me, so I calmed myself down and mentally went through the steps required to dispose of the ordnance."

The team sharing and discussing information about the Unexploded Ordnance.

The team sharing and discussing information about the Unexploded Ordnance.

The EOD SRT trains operators to assess the hazards and safety precautions associated with various ordnances. From there, operators have to plan and execute the appropriate safe disposal actions, as well as determine the extent of the cordon required. With a clear disposal plan, operators will brief the necessary stakeholders and seek cooperation from other agencies to ensure mission success.

We hear from 3SG Isaiah Loh Kai En and CPL Brixton Toh, both from 36 SCE, as they share their journey in the unit.

How does the Section Response Training help in your role in the unit? 

3SG Loh: The SRT is the bread and butter of an EOD Commander since our EOD Commanders' Course. It's a run-through of everything we might experience in actual operations, from decision making, communication, to our safety processes. The more comfortable we are in dealing with unfamiliar situations, the more ready we are to respond to actual operations.

CPL Toh: The training is an exhausting yet enjoyable experience for us. It taught us how to overcome different obstacles and the importance of effective and realistic scenario planning. Overall, it is a critical training for us to get mentally and physically prepared to deal with the real operations and apply the lessons learnt.

3SG Isaiah Loh Kai En, an EOD Commander from 36 SCE.

3SG Isaiah Loh Kai En, an EOD Commander from 36 SCE.

How was your first disposal experience like?

3SG Loh: When I was first activated, I thought to myself that it would be an interesting experience. After the disposal, I felt a sense of fulfilment as I played a part in keeping Singapore safe.

CPL Toh: My first activation was an EOD bomb call near a residential area. Being my first time activated, there was uncertainty throughout the activation. However, the synergy of the team and the past training brought us towards a safe and smooth completion of the mission.
How is it like being in the EOD unit where you have to be always operationally ready? 

3SG Loh: We have to be mentally prepared for anything. Being operationally ready has already become a way of life we maintain in the unit.

CPL Toh: Being in the unit has taught me to always stay vigilant towards my surroundings, and always be available and qualified to perform my assigned tasks and mission.

CPL Brixton Toh, a Dual Vocationalist from 36 SCE

CPL Brixton Toh, a Dual Vocationalist from 36 SCE.

What is one lesson you've learnt from your time in the unit?  

3SG Loh: Never stop learning. As EOD operators, we work in a dynamic and ever-evolving environment. The knowledge we possess is one of our most important assets. We cannot afford to be complacent. Even after over a year of being in this unit, I find myself learning new things after talking to other commanders, or reading past activation reports.

Kudos to all soldiers, past and present, in the EOD unit for the sacrifices they have made. We are confident that commanders and soldiers will continue to uphold these high standards, and safeguard the security and safety of Singaporeans for many years to come!

Written by: LCP Toh Yew Siang (Army News)
Photography by: PTE Dylan Seah (Army News)