DOUALA, Cameroon – Uniform top already darkened with sweat, Staff. Sgt. Joshua Crenshaw calmly halts the Cameroonian Armed Forces soldier in front of him.
“Stop, you’re dead.”
It’s 9 a.m. in Douala, and the humidity is pervasive. Crenshaw, an explosive ordnance disposal technician and team leader, is overseeing a practical exercise—one in which the real-life applications can mean life or death.
Crenshaw is one of a handful of Soldiers from the 764th Ordnance Company (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) out of Fort Carson, Colorado, who came to Cameroon at the request of U.S Army Africa during Counter Improvised Explosive Device-Defeat Phase I training October 23 to November 17, 2017, to help Cameroonian troops learn more about IEDs and how to dispose of them safely.
While IEDs have long been used in conflicts, they are a favorite among terrorist organizations. Cameroonian Armed Forces regularly deploy to northern Cameroon—an area where the violent extremist organization Boko Haram operates. According to the United Nations, attacks by Boko Haram have displaced up to two million people in the countries of Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad, and Niger, and have claimed the lives of up to 15,000 people since 2009.