ISIOLO, KENYA - Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) is a challenging but rewarding career field that pushes physical and mental limits for those willing to take on the challenge. U.S. Army Soldiers interested in this career field must endure several assessments before, during and after their initial training has been completed. Only a few bear such a responsibility and there are only a select group of female Soldiers within the occupational specialty.
1st Lt. Naomi Dawood, an EOD officer with the 720th Ordnance Company, is amongst the highly trained individuals that make up this mission critical job. Dawood has been trained to deal with the construction, deployment, disarmament, and disposal of high explosive munitions; she also performs routine duties as an officer in the U.S. Army. Currently, she is serving as a platoon leader with the 720th as they provide support to Exercise Justified Accord 2022 in Isiolo, Kenya.
Dawood and other members of her unit have been tasked with hosting training events for participating allied forces as well as assisting in site surveys and safety protocols of the area. Exercise Justified Accord provides a platform for U.S. and African partners to support enduring peace and stability in the region. Over 800 personnel participated in the exercise which includes both field and command post training scenarios. EOD is a multidimensional occupation assisting in the exercise that regards education of troops as an important part of operational readiness.
"Being an EOD technician, we are very aware of explosive hazards,'' said Dawood. “To give our knowledge to those partner forces who might not have those same resources or capabilities that we have is really rewarding. To know that they can go back to their country and find an improvised explosive device (IED) or hazard and utilize something we taught them out here is really valuable."
Continuing education and perseverance are things that Dawood references throughout her journey as an EOD technician. She was originally drawn to the career field because of the intricacy, difficulty and mission impact that is associated with the specialty. Technicians must always continue to demonstrate mastery of their capabilities as well as keep current on the latest changes in technology and tactics. Dawood and her team demonstrated this ethos as they diligently exchanged information with different African nations. They also set aside time to ensure completion of proficiency tasks necessary to maintain and advance their skills.
"I feel like as I spend more time in such a male dominated career field, I have grown more of an appreciation for the women that came before me," said Dawood. "I'm sure it wasn't easy, especially for the first female EOD to go through school, but I am very thankful for those that paved the way before me. I hope to someday be a mentor and a symbol of success for females just as others were to me, not just in EOD but in any field.”