Albanian EOD unit shows off U.S. donated equipment at Vlore Open Day
The Albanian Armed Forces’ Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit showed off U.S. donated equipment on May 22, 2021, at a military-sponsored open house in Vlore, Albania, held as part of Defender-Europe 21 activities.
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The Albanian Armed Forces’ Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit shows off U.S. donated equipment, including robots designed to move explosive devices and keep military personnel safely out of harm's way May 22, 2021, at a military-sponsored open house in Vlore, Albania (Picture source: U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Elizabeth O. Bryson)
During the event, U.S. Ambassador to Albania Yuri Kim was briefed on the equipment and the continued U.S. commitment to peace and security in Albania, which includes decontamination of landmines and unexploded ordnance sites leftover from previous conflict here.
According to the U.S. Department of State, the Kosovo conflict in 1998-1999 left significant landmine contamination along Albania’s border with Kosovo. The country also has also shown UXO contamination from hotspots including former military impact ranges and exploded depots from periods of civil unrest. Since 2000, the United States has provided more than $47.2 million for Conventional Weapons Destruction efforts in Albania.
Artian Dautaj, Office of Defense Cooperation, U.S. Embassy in Tirana, Albania, foreign military humanitarian assistance manager, said the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) Humanitarian Mine Action Program continues to help the Government of Albania Guard provide education, training and technical assistance both on the EOD program and the renovation of ammunition depots in order to minimize the potential risks and effects of explosive remnants of war here. Training is aimed at developing Albanian EOD capabilities and furthering the U.S. and Albania’s joint commitment to safely guarding, storing and destroying munitions.
Working with The Department of Defense, Albanian Armed Forces have used their training and equipment to assist other countries in the region, as well, according to Dautuj.
Albania not only has deployed EOD teams in support of NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence multinational battle group in Latvia but has provided crucial assistance in the Republic of Mali after the recent armed conflict left the country with weapons and explosives contamination which threatened the safety of civilians and impeded stabilization efforts there. Following a request from the Government of Mali, and within the framework of the European Union, Albania deployed an EOD contingent to Mali to provide EOD Level 1 training to the Malian Defense Forces so that they could provide peace and security to the people there. Since 1999, the United States has provided more than $14 million to build health, education, and disaster preparedness capacities in Albania.