Six Academy Awards for “The Hurt Locker” Sunday night, including an Oscar for Best Picture. Then the cast and crew went off to party.
But the bomb-defusing work depicted so powerfully in the film never ends in Iraq and Afghanistan.
IEDs — “improvised explosive devices” — have been the number-one killer of American troops in both wars. They make every step a potential last step. They slow and enervate soldiers ready to charge and fight.
This hour, On Point: Beyond “The Hurt Locker” to the real battle against IEDs.
Joining us from Fredricksburg, Va., is Kevin Lutz, retired Army Colonel who was the top officer overseeing the military’s EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) work in Iraq from 2006 to 2009. He led the 52nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group, members of which are portrayed in “The Hurt Locker,” and led Task Force Troy, fighting IEDs at the height of the Iraq War. He’s served three combat tours, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has been awarded two Bronze Stars. He’s now executive vice president of A-T Solutions, a company focusing on global counter-terrorism efforts.
You can read about what Lutz faced in Iraq in a series written by The Washington Post’s Rick Atkinson.
Also from Fredricksburg is Jonathan Hunter, retired Army Captain who served as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer in Afghanistan, primarily in the Khost and Kandahar areas. He served with Kevin Lutz in Afghanistan and now works for Allen Vanguard, the company that makes the bomb suits featured in “The Hurt Locker.” He works on anti-IED systems and briefs Congress on the latest technologies.
From Arlington, Va., is Command Sergeant Major Todd Burnett, the military’s senior enlisted advisor to the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO). He is the recipient of the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Legion of Merit. He has served in Iraq and Afghanistan and has endured 44 IED attacks, 23 of which were direct hits.
We’ve posted statistics on IEDs in Afghanistan from the Department of Defense.
A special thanks today to the EOD Memorial Foundation, which is dedicated to the memory of troops who have served in this line of work. Our gratitude to executive director Jim O’Neil.