Canadian diver serves in Afghanistan

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – News coverage of current events in Afghanistan has made IEDs a household name throughout the world. On any given moment of any given day, an Internet news search will result in hundreds of related headlines.

An explosive ordnance disposal and IED background, combined with a quart or two of liquid steel running through his veins is what keeps Canadian Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tyrone J. David, a Counter IED Branch operations officer, on top of his game.

Back in Canada, this Sailor’s line of work is far different from what he is doing ‘ashore’ in Afghanistan.  In the Navy, he’s a clearance diver, a job that entails looking for underwater mines, finding remnants of crashed airplanes and piloting a submarine 2,000 feet under the ocean.

“I am trained in defusing underwater mines and in operating various diving equipment,” said the native of Petit De Grat, Canada. “One of my sub specialities is EOD and IED and that is why I am here in Afghanistan.”

He has traded in his flippers and wetsuit for a flak jacket and Kevlar helmet and uses his unexploded ordnance and IED background to help ISAF rebuild and stabilize the country of Afghanistan.

“My diving experience doesn’t translate too well in anything other than the safety factors,” said David. “A mine is a mine. Underwater mines are a lot more dangerous, because they deal with acoustics, magnetics, pressure, seismic, and other aspects. But it is still a mine.”

In Afghanistan, the Canadian monitors IED strikes in ISAF’s Regional Command-South and looks for trends, enemy tactical procedures, and types of IEDs. He uses these statistics to train ISAF service members in counter-IED measures.

So far this year, the ISAF RC-South Counter IED Branch has trained approximately 22,000 ISAF service members in IEDs and unexploded ordnance – providing them with situational awareness of what they will be seeing in theatre.

“I think we are doing extremely well in the training aspect. The numbers have changed from what’s been exploded and what’s being discovered – and that is by awareness, by people stopping and saying, ‘eh, why are those wires sticking out over there? Why are there six rocks aligned by the road,’” said David.

David said he loves his job and never thought a “Navy Guy” would be in Afghanistan working with the Army and the Air Force.

“I love my job; it’s an adrenaline rush,” said David, who has been in the Canadian Navy for 22 years. “Everything we do is very exciting, its very elite. We do stuff most people in the world would never dream of doing.”

British Army Lt. Col. Ken H. Baker, RC South Counter IED Branch chief and a native of Bristol, England, said David is a great asset to the team.

“We are sitting in the middle of a desert. The fact that he doesn’t do land based explosive ordnance, gives him a different aspect of how things are done and he can take perhaps a little bit more pragmatic view and look at things with a different perspective,” said Baker. “He has done a fantastic job so far.”

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