Thursday, June 12, 2008

Capt. Reissener takes Command as helm of EODTECHDIV shifts

MC2 Rachel Kibbe
Capt. Brett Reissener takes command of EODTECHDIV.
By tradition, every naval change of command ceremony includes the familiar words ‘‘I will now read my orders.”

However, because of an uncertain changing world where asymmetric warfare rages and employs such terror devices as improvised explosive devices, those words had special meaning at the change of command ceremony held at the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technical Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center at the Stump Neck Annex of Naval Support Facility Indian Head last Friday.

Much of the impact of that ceremony, which highlighted the successes of Capt. Brian J. Brakke’s guidance of helping U.S. armed forces counter that world of terror as he handed command over to Capt. Brett A. Reissener, was perhaps summed up best by NSWC commander, Rear Adm. Archer M. Macy Jr.

‘‘Exactly 64 years ago today, allied forces went ashore in Normandy to wrest control of the European continent from a lethal dictatorship that had ensnarled the world in over five years of war,” Macy began the June 6 event. ‘‘It was at the start of that conflict that led to Normandy that saw the creation of the EOD community, whose naval arm soon found its home here in southern Maryland...It is no news to this audience of the critical and truly life-saving importance of the EOD technician to the battlefields on which we find ourselves today. Uncounted numbers of American and coalition Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines have been spared death or injury from improvised explosive devices due to the courage, skill, tenacity and mission dedication of EOD technicians how have rendered safe or eliminated these threats on the battlefield,” he said.

‘‘One of the pillars of the EOD capability is having the right tools, technology, support and professional knowledge to deal with the threats that the EOD technician faces; and that pillar is rooted in this place where we gather today: the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division. Without the support provided by EODTECHDIV, ranging from the tactical to the strategic, we would not have anything like the EOD capability we have today!” Macy emphasized.

The NSWC commander then hailed Brakke’s command of the facility (since October, 2006) as a ‘‘magnificent tour of duty that (he) has given to his nation, his Navy and his fellow members of the EOD community.”

‘‘Throughout our association, Brian has been a steadfast partner, loyal adviser, and gentle critic who helped me on numerous occasions to both do good things and look while I was at it. His passion for excellence, his steadfast approach, and his reasoned advice have been both an example and buttress for me...he has been a leader, tactician and warrior who always kept the mission, effectiveness and safety of the EOD technicians at the very center of his attention,” Macy said. ‘‘He has led the way in all of our efforts in support of EOD technicians, following the motto of ‘‘Keep Them Off The Wall!”

Macy then presented Brakke with the Defense Superior Service Medal (sixth highest military decoration in precedence) for his leadership of EODTECHDIV.

In his remarks, Brakke thanked his team; he especially was appreciative of the EODTECHDIV leadership as he noted, ‘‘the Navy is known for its command triad: The command master chief and the executive officer are two of my closest confidants and share in every decision that affects this command. My triad is a little larger and includes Chris O’Donnell, Jason Schaffer and Drew Koban. This is a diverse group that brings a broad experience to the table and I couldn’t have asked for a better team.”

Then he thanked the entire EODTECHDIV for the 20 months of support it gave him to guide its success.

‘‘Twenty months ago my hair was less grey and I had more of it!” he said. ‘‘Twenty months ago I stood on this same stage and challenged this team to balance the ability to provide rapid developing and spiral technology to our EOD forces while identifying, fielding and sustaining the technology and decision support tools necessary to feet the asymmetric threat of the future. Well the asymmetric threat has already evolved into an irregular one and it won’t be long before that irregular threat comes from a nation state instead of a terrorist organization; so how did we do?

He then listed a litany of accomplishments that EODTECHDIV was able to accomplish in the global war on terror. Included was:”

  • A phenomenal rapid response for more high tech MTRS robots to support the surge in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Improvements for those devices as well as a partnership with the Joint Robotics Program Office to maintain in theater availability at a fraction under 100 percent while the logistics team gained accolades as the Naval Sea Systems Command’s ‘‘Logistics Team of the Year.”

  • Analysis of alternatives for the next generation robots and work on research and development projects on polymer muscles, advanced communications and monitoring the advances in hydrocarbon fuel cells for the future.

  • Providing urgent needs for other requirements, such as disposable firing sets, and a testing program for hand-held explosive detection equipment.

    Brakke also listed accomplishments in work on neutralizing limpet mines to protect Navy underwater systems and divers, work on a Counter Radio-controlled IED Electronic Warfare (CREW) equipment, as well as successes in both the information and operational support areas.

    ‘‘In the area of information, we’ve created or revised more than 1,000 of our 60 series manuals which cover EOD procedures on more than 2,700 ordnance items,” he pointed out. ‘‘In a continuous presence, at least 20 military and civilian personnel are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan supporting Combined Explosives Exploitation Cells (CEXC) and we will soon support Foreign Ordnance Exploitation Cell (FOXC) in Iraq,” he added.

    Brakke closed his remarks with ‘‘I’d like to leave you with this philosophy, which I think you’ve been executing all along: Remember where you came from; know where you are; know where you are going; have fun getting there and Keep Them Off the Wall...It has been a privilege and an honor to serve as your commanding officer!”

    In taking command, Reissener was brief. He pointed out three basic principles of command.

    ‘‘Command is a privilege,” he said. ‘‘I would like to graciously thank those involved in guiding me, mentoring me, supporting me and making this opportunity a reality.”

    ‘‘Command is an honor. I humbly acknowledge the honor of leading NAVEODTECHDIV and the 500-plus men and women who make up this command,” he added.

    ‘‘Lastly, command is a burden; the burden of ultimate and absolute responsibility. Without hesitation or reservation I accept this burden and commit myself in our service...My purpose is to support each and every one of you in the accomplishment of our joint EOD mission while at the same time maintaining a wartime focus of effort...Let’s continue to do everything within our means to Keep Them Off The Wall!”