by Eric. W. Barton
Quality and job specific training have always been important to me for both business and professional development. Their importance has never been more essential than as my company, RELYANT, begins work on our unexploded ordnance/demining contract in Afghanistan. This contract requires very specific training because the people that search for the unexploded ordnance (UXO) are putting their lives at risk every day, not to mention they are doing this in an austere and sometimes hostile environment.
Although my military experience is in intelligence and my civilian education concentrates in business, I have become much more educated in the UXO and demining industries because my company now executes this type of work. I find the six months to a year of intense education and training these men and women go through fascinating. The preparatory classes along with the 30-50+ weeks of training on specific types of ordnance (bombs/missiles, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), nuclear, and underwater ordnance) would overwhelm the average person, not to mention the physical requirements they must maintain.
To be a Senior UXO Supervisor (the most senior position on a UXO project) you must have 10 years of experience, with five of those years in a management role. The other management positions are UXO Quality Control Specialist and Safety Officer; both of these positions require 8 years experience. From there you have UXO Tech III, II, and I. As you can see, quality and experience are essential.
As an American Society of Quality, Certified Quality Manager (ASQ CQM OE), I insist on a high level of quality throughout my organization, similar to the rigorous quality standards that must be maintained on UXO projects. Our management staff ensures impeccable quality standards are being met or exceeded for the safety of their own personnel as well as the success of the project. High quality standards are what keep technicians from missing a landmine or UXO and adding another victim to the more than 5,000 Afghan citizens that have been either killed or injured by these devices since 2001.
I have the utmost respect for the men and women who do this type of work both in the military as well as for civilian contractors like RELYANT. It epitomizes the importance of well qualified people doing quality work.