Training model of Polish EOD engineers

Training model of Polish EOD engineers

Andrzej Zarczynski

Since the end of World War II, Polish engineers have taken part in numerous peacekeeping missions. During these missions, mine-clearing operations have been the main task of explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams. Mines have become a very simple and effective means of battle, because most of them are simple to construct, inexpensive to manufacture, and easy to use. Mines have now become one of the principal threats to NATO and UN operations and soldiers. Clearing these mines is not only costly and slow but also extremely dangerous. Therefore, engineers from EOD teams must be specially trained if they are to be involved in mine-clearing operations.

The Polish armed forces train young engineer officers for assignments as BOD platoon leaders, warrant officers and noncommissioned officers as EOD team leaders, and conscripts as EOD team members.

Peace Support Training

Training Polish engineer soldiers for EOD team operations consists of three phases:

Skills Training

This six-month phase is conducted in selected military engineer units within Poland, where soldiers learn the basics in Polish military doctrine on mine operations. They learn the types of mines and minefields (purpose, description, and method of operation and handling) and the methods of laying and removing mines. Soldiers also receive instructions on minefield construction, such as where to use antipersonnel or antitank mines and the kinds of mines to use in various areas (fields, forests, roads, etc.).

The soldiers receive extensive training in mine-clearing operations, which includes–

* Methods of marking and fencing minefields and minefield lanes.

* Basic rules of safety during mine-clearing operations (for example, the minimum safe distances for mine clearance and BOD operations appropriate to the threat of blast and shrapnel).

* Disposal procedures during electrical and safety fuse methods of blast initiation.

During this time, engineer officers (who have graduated from the Military Academy) and warrant officers or NCOs (who are graduates of the Engineering Training Centre in Wroclaw) respectively serve as platoon leaders and squad leaders in a military engineer unit.

After their initial six months of training, conscripts–if appointed to serve in a mission area–and a cadre from a selected military unit take part in a ten-day course at the Engineering Training Centre, training to be EOD team members. These soldiers prepare for a specific mission area. Currently, we train EOD soldiers for operations in Lebanon, Syria, Kosovo, Bosnia, and Afghanistan.

Correlate Training

During this five-week phase, training for UN peacekeeping missions is conducted at the Sikorski Military Training Centre in Kielce. Training for NATO missions is at selected military engineer units in Poland. During this phase, soldiers are specially trained in EOD mine-clearing operations.

Advanced Training

The last phase of training is conducted in the mission area (for example, Kosovo) for five days. The newly arrived team receives instruction on the operational environment from the team that is currently in the mission area. During this phase, the two teams develop a training plan and use actual mines, which have been rendered safe, that the conflicting sides have been known to use in that area.

Engineering Training Centre

Training at the Engineering Training Centre consists of classroom instruction, followed by practical field training. The classroom instruction, which comprises about 10 to 15 percent of the training syllabus, is conducted at the Engineering Training Centre. The practical field training is conducted at selected battle camp locations that are specifically designated to train Polish EOD personnel.

During the classroom instruction, there are lectures about current ongoing UN or NATO missions; characteristics of antipersonnel and antitank mines, unexploded ordnance (UXO), and booby traps; and other mine-related threats. The instructors have a wealth of experience to share with the students, because each instructor has completed at least one rotation in an actual mission area. Additionally, we use a great deal of original documentation, such as mission instructions and operational maps, from mission areas where Polish soldiers have been and are currently operating.

Training Requirements and Content

EOD teams are trained according to NATO or UN procedures and Polish doctrine. There are many standard operating procedures (SOPs) and instructions that we profit from during training. We continually revise and develop training materials (training aids, instruction syllabi, and drafts) to better train our soldiers. Recently, we produced a detailed mine-clearing video based on actual operational mission experience to supplement the standard training package. Our operations experiences have been published in military magazines, including an article titled “Mine Threats in Mission Areas” in the February 2001 issue of Engineer.

Methods of Work

Soldiers receive training in individual and panel activities during mine-clearing operations. In addition, they learn the dangers of handling ammunition and UXO. Every Polish EOD engineer soldier is trained in–

* Detection–using various kinds of equipment, such as probes, types of mine detectors, and grapnels.

* Identification and on-site evaluation–identifying types of mines, ammunition, and UXO that may be encountered in a particular mission area.

* Rendering safe or recovery–being able to operate independently and having the self-confidence to know how to render safe or recover mines, ammunition, or UXO.

* Final disposal of mines, ammunition, and UXO–performing demolition or burning in place, removal to a disposal area, or other means appropriate to the mission area.

During training, we use mines that were used in previous military conflicts and have been rendered safe. We now have about 100 drill mines from current conflict zones. (There are about 700 types of mines in use worldwide, with more than 300 of them being antipersonnel mines.)

Booby Traps

The construction of booby traps depends greatly on the inventiveness of the people and soldiers who make them. They are normally made of readily available, commonly used items and military equipment such as a weapon or bayonet. We train our soldiers on the methods of preparing booby traps, to include the various types, the materials that can be used to construct them, and where they can be used effectively. As always, special attention is devoted to the history and details of the use of booby traps that soldiers may encounter in a specific area of operation. Our training, based on operational experience, includes the following examples:

* An antitank mine is connected to an inductive short-circuiting switch by an electric circuit. The inductive short-circuiting is situated adjacent to an antitank mine. When a mine is swept by a mine detector during clearing operations, the detector generates an electromagnetic impulse, which causes the electric circuit to close and the antitank mine to detonate.

* A direction mine is connected to a plate short-circuiting switch (an aluminium plate and a pressure plate with nails) by an electric circuit. When the pressure plate is stepped on, it perforates the aluminum plate, which causes the electric circuit to close and the mine to detonate.

* Military equipment (such as a weapon, sidearm, or binoculars) is connected to TNT or a mine by wires to an electric circuit or antihandling device. When the equipment is moved or lifted, the TNT or mine detonates.

* Maps in a briefcase are attached to TNT by an electric circuit. When the maps are taken out of the briefcase, the electric circuit closes and the TNT detonates.

* Ammunition or an antitank mine is buried under another antitank mine. An antihandling device connects the two, and the mines could detonate when the first one is lifted.

* A grenade in a glass is attached to a door or window handle. When the door or window is opened, the device falls out of the glass and detonates.

* A bounding (or fragmentation) mine is connected to a shovel by a trip wire. When the shovel is lifted, the mine detonates.

* TNT is placed in a telephone, videocassette, or night lamp. When the receiver is lifted, the videocassette opens or the night lamp switches on, a fuse activates, and the TNT detonates.

Safety Rules

Soldiers are given instructions on safe distances for conducting mine clearance and EOD operations appropriate to the threat of blast and shrapnel. This is achieved by ensuring strict adherence to SOPs and established NATO or UN procedures and training doctrine. Safety procedures also require soldiers to wear personal protective equipment (full body armor, helmets, and visors) during mine-clearing operations.

Minefields and Minefield Lanes

We train our soldiers to mark and fence minefields and minefield lanes according to current NATO or UN procedures, as required within the mission area.

Psychological Aspects

EOD engineers are trained on the psychological impact of constantly dealing with antitank and antipersonnel mines and booby traps. During training, we show new soldiers films and photos of mine accidents to increase their sense of safety and reinforce the proper procedures for handling explosive devices.

First Aid

Soldiers are trained to provide immediate first aid to mine victims, and they learn the proper procedures for requesting medical evacuation of casualties.


Our training model and education prepare excellent engineer soldiers for EOD teams, as demonstrated by their continued high-quality performance during actual operational missions. During both training and mine-clearing operations, we teach soldiers to be safety conscious and impress on them that their actions can ensure the safety of the local civilian population and the environment. Our training program is intensive and focused. And it benefits greatly from having cadre with actual operational field experience to teach the next generation of engineer EOD specialists. W

Colonel Zarczynski, an officer in the Polish armed forces, is currently the chief of the Engineer Branch, HQ SFOR, Sarajevo/Butmir, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He also has served in the UNEF mission in Sinai, the UNPROFOR mission in Croatia, and the ASIDT in Albania. Colonel Zarczynski is head of the Tactics Department of the Engineering Training Centre, Tadeusz Kosciuszko Military Academy, Wroclaw, Poland, where he trains Polish engineering units for UN and NA TO missions.

COPYRIGHT 2002 U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center

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