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NEWS | May 17, 2024

US Army EOD Group strengthens ROK-US Alliance during meeting on Fort Carson

By Walter Ham, 20th CBRNE Command

A U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group helped to strengthen EOD interoperability with the Republic of Korea Army.

Capt. Paul Sohn, the future operations officer for the U.S. Army 71st Ordnance Group (EOD), served as the action officer and translator for a visit by the ROK Army Logistics Command to the headquarters of the 71st EOD Group, the group that commands U.S. Army EOD units west of the Mississippi River.

Headquartered on Fort Carson, Colorado, the 71st EOD Group commands three battalions and 18 EOD companies stationed on bases in Colorado, California, Washington, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri and New Mexico.

Col. Brennen C. Fitzgerald, the commander of the 71st EOD Group, hosted Brig. Gen. Yi Won Jae, the commanding general of the ROK Army Ammunition Support Command, at the headquarters.

Sohn facilitated the delivery of the 71st EOD Group capabilities brief, an equipment walkthrough and discussions about EOD operations.

“This event improved our relationship through the opportunity to sit down, face-to-face and create a meaningful connection through humble conversation,” said Sohn. “Thanks to heavy communication prior to the visit itself, we were able to prepare answers to all their questions when they had arrived.”

Sohn said much of the discussion was focused on the EOD team leader process in the U.S. Army and future bilateral EOD training events.

“We believe this improved the interoperability between the 71st EOD Group and ROK Army Logistics Command because it provided them a platform to request integration into future training exercises,” said Sohn. “They departed with trust in the 71st EOD Group’s forces, a heightened understanding of different lead times required for planning for joint exercises and an excitement for both nation’s EOD technicians to grow their skills together.”

Sohn said the ROK Army Logistics Command will work to integrate ROK Army EOD techs into the 71st EOD Group EOD Team of the Year competitions. He added that company-level events might also be conducted to leverage the collective expertise of both nation’s EOD units.

A native of Glenview, Illinois, and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Sohn lived in South Korea for four years during elementary and middle school.

“Being able to speak Korean was helpful as it provided a level of relief to the ROK Army party as well as ease to the 71st EOD Group’s Commander Col. Fitzgerald to speak effectively without limitation,” said Sohn. “As a team, we went above and beyond to ensure successful execution.”

Sohn was the 1st platoon leader for the Fort Carson, Colorado-based 764th EOD Company during a nine-month deployment to Syria and Iraq in support of the 10th Mountain Division during Operation Inherent Resolve.

He served as a team member during a response to an unmanned aerial system in Erbil, Iraq.

“I wanted to become an EOD officer because of the opportunity to work closely with some of the smartest people in a small team environment,” said Sohn. “A typical platoon in the Army consists of 40 people. An EOD Platoon is comprised of eight techs including the platoon leader.”

“You get to grow an exceptional bond with your teammates in an EOD platoon,” said Sohn. “There’s a deeper layer of trust that you get to operate from that may be rare to find elsewhere. I’m truly grateful that I got EOD as my branch.”