Soldiers Will Practice Locating Old Munitions at Camp Smith

Date: 
04/01/2009
Source: 
NYS Division of Miitary & Naval Affairs
CORTLANDT MANOR, NY (04/01/2009; 1200)(readMedia)-- On Friday and Saturday, April 3 and 4, New York Army National Guard Soldiers will sweep the woods in the northeast quadrant of the New York National Guard's Camp Smith Training Site in search of World War I- era mortar rounds which may be in the area.

The exercise is part of the training the Scotia-based 1108th Ordnance Company (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) is conducting in preparation for a deployment to Iraq at the end of 2009. EOD Soldiers are trained in locating, identifying, and rendering safe and disposing of unexploded ordnance and enemy munitions.

Members of the public may see the Soldiers in Kevlar vests and wearing eye protection conducting this training as they travel along Route 6, or if they are hiking in along the Appalachian Trail, or the trail which runs from the Bear Mountain Toll House to the top of Anthony's Nose.

Between World War I and World War II the area was used as an impact area for mortar firing. New York National Guard units fired British-made Stokes Mortars into the area and some old rounds may remain. The Stokes Mortar, developed in World War I, fired 3 inch rounds.

A survey of this part of Camp Smith, conducted by a contractor last year, indicated that there is a chance that unexploded mortar rounds may still be in this area, said Col. Mark Warnecke, Camp Smith's post director. Over the past two years almost 200 of these old rounds have been found on other parts of the post and disposed of.

The public is in no danger, Warnecke said. The EOD specialists will ensure that all safety precautions are taken. Any mortar rounds which have the potential to be hazardous will be identified and safely disposed of by the EOD specialists. They will work from west to east, starting along Route 6 and the hiking trail on Friday.

The clearance training is being conducted now because of the weather, Warnecke explained. There is no more snow on the ground and the underbrush hasn't started growing. It's the perfect time of the year to locate any old munitions, he said.

Bringing in the 1108th to conduct the sweep on their regular training weekend, gives these Soldiers an opportunity to hone their skills before deploying to a war zone, Warnecke said.

The risk poised to the public by any remaining munitions is very small, but the National Guard is seeking to be a responsible environmental steward and wants to remove any items that may be hazardous, Warnecke said.

The Camp Smith trail runs from the old Bear Mountain Toll House, through Camp Smith property to the top of Anthony's Nose. The trail property was once an integral part of the military training area, but is now on an easement granted by the Division of Military and Naval Affairs to the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for recreational purposes.

The area along the trail has been surveyed before and there are few munitions likely to be found in that area, Warnecke said.

It may be necessary to dispose of some old munitions by exploding them in place with a controlled charge. Should that be necessary all controlled demolition will be conducted during brief windows of time on Friday and Saturday, Warnecke said.