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Bomb disposal efforts in Iraq

In this column, I'd like to let everybody state-side know how Bomb Disposal efforts are coming along in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In fact, one of my friends, Montgomery County, Tenn. Deputy John Miller, is over there now working as a Military Bomb Technician (called "EOD Techs").

EOD Troops with the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines, and the U.K. EOD have completed over 8,600 EOD missions.

In those missions, counting the disposal of small arms ammunition, they have neutralized over 17.7 Million items of munitions, with a total net explosive weight of 5 Million pounds. During the previous six months, they also encountered and neutralized 154 active Improvised Explosive Devices.

Excellent work, guys!

On another topic, as many of you know, the system for awarding grant money for Homeland Defense is seriously flawed. A recent statement released by the U.S. Conference of City Mayors said in part that almost 90 percent of cities have yet to receive their funds.

According to the United Press International, lawmakers have heard our pleas and responded. Shawn Waterman stated, "A parsel of bills to consolidate and reform the various grant systems for firefighters, police and emergency medical service departments administered by the Department of Homeland Security are now jostling elbows in both chambers. But changing the way the financial cake is cut is never a simple matter in Congress."

These bills claim to eliminate many of the bottlenecks currently occurring, such as basing grants on population and state versus threat assessments.

The changes won't come cheaply either. One bill proposes making these changes by creating a 'task force', at the tune of $8 million.

Hopefully, this isn't another ruse to simply divide the wealth among larger cities, but will allow for more equal disbursement in the future. Be sure and let your lawmakers know how you feel!

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