Meet the Robotic Bomb Squad


I think what people know most about the bomb squad if they know anything is that we have robots if two robots break you call another team and you get a third robot and then a fourth robot we had a rule that basically you didn’t put your foot somewhere unless the robot went there first there’s an old saying among bomb technicians distance is your friend we heard it a lot during a recent visit to a u.s. army training facility outside Washington DC where we got a robotic crash course and explosive ordnance disposal but what does distances your friend mean when there are lives including your own on the line we went to Niagara Falls New York to meet Brian Kastner a former bomb tech and author of the long walk to find out I was an air force officer for eight years and then I moved over to the bomb squad and then I did two tours in Iraq with the hundred and first Airborne supporting the Kurds and being the bomb squad for a city of couple hundred thousand essentially well on my second tour in Iraq over about six months we did eight hundred nine hundred missions and so out of that many missions a good two thirds of them are going to be using the robot in some way the US Department of Defense began rolling out these small ground robots in the early 2000s today two robotic platforms dominate every bomb techs toolkit there’s the PackBot and the talent both are fitted with cameras an arm and a claw and are operated remotely with video game style controllers bomb techs we have the absolute best toys I’ve seen a guy knock out the car window grab onto the frame of the door and lift himself lift the robot up inside the car get in the front seat and then start taking apart the device that’s what the pack bot can do but the Talon is the workhorse the Talon is the it’s the go-to it’s the tank it busts through everything it is nearly indestructible I think when you start off everything is just cool it’s cool that the robot does this thing eventually the cool factor goes away and it’s just another tool in your toolbox we were so spoiled we had this massive 47 thousand pound truck and we could fill it full of millions of dollars worth of gear we could take all this different pieces of Technology but the main thing like I say that everybody knows is we have this robot and by 2006 95 percent of the time you would have the robot there in 2006 the Pentagon reported 3,000 improvised explosive devices or IEDs in Afghanistan and nearly 31,000 IEDs in Iraq piqué IE d hit a year later when Kastner was finishing active duty in Iraq where 33,000 IEDs were reported I sometimes think that especially say in the Iraq war each side sent their champion into battle their champion was the IUD and our champion was this robot we had the to go in fight when the war got started we had so few robots that they were just really precious when one blew up it was out of the fight in a meant that you had to be doing a lot of this work hands-on and so the robots were so precious you really did protect them initially the military couldn’t provide solid data on the number of bomb robots deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2014 but a representative with the military’s counter ieda gence II said the summary answer would be quote in the thousands eventually we just bought so many of the things they almost became disposable and we would have a whole stack of blown-up robots in the corner and I love to see it every blown up robot meant that somebody lived we did named some of our robots we tended to give our robots names either of UFC fighters or porn stars basically as a giant middle finger I think that this idea of naming the robot and really growing attached to it and thinking of it as another person another member of the team that was really true when we had so few of them and then eventually we got an army of robots and and we were able to to maybe use them as they were really intended the the robots kind of transitioned you know away from us the last thing that you want to do is be laying on top of the bomb cutting the red wire so we back up and we use a robot and then we back up and use a drone and then we back up again and we back up again and we back up but sometimes you’re still all the way right there there is no worse feeling in the world than sitting on a road checking it with a robot saying everything is clear packing up and driving away and then seeing a detonation in the rear view mirror because you sent a patrol in and you said the area was safe and it wasn’t and then you’re turning around and you are you’re picking up pieces of the suicide bomber you’re picking up pieces of American soldiers you don’t use a robot to pick up pieces of people you do that yourself even the distance provided by military robots doesn’t shield soldiers and bomb techs like Kastner from the horrors of war do you have PTSD no I don’t actually have post-traumatic stress disorder but you can be plenty crazy and not have that particular diagnosis it just means that in the manual where they they look up these diagnoses that you have eight of the required 12 things or something so I don’t have enough of those the most effective way to get past these things is forgetting I did try a lot of things writing the book was my way of telling the story to explain what happened to me but I did try yoga I tried alcohol I drank a lot and if drinking had worked I probably would have kept drinking I think it is the writing I think writing gives you space to forget writing the book I was really conscious of choosing to be a writer wanting to do a good job and wanting to tell a story that other people might want to read so all of my scribbled notes right there do you miss the war oh I miss it oh I miss it a lot because time slows down and it’s it’s peaceful in some way you know that you’re alive I don’t know if I miss the robots I don’t know if I miss the technology I miss I miss the guys I love the men I served with more than the robots

38 Comments

  1. Motherboard said:

    "The Hurt Locker" got it only partly right.

    April 28, 2015
    Reply
  2. Jonas Neddermann said:

    First 😂🔫

    April 28, 2015
    Reply
  3. skunkFU said:

    Lisa Ann and John Cena disarming a bomb toghether……sounds like a porntitle

    April 28, 2015
    Reply
  4. FoodOfTheGods said:

    Thank you Mr. Castner for your service!

    April 28, 2015
    Reply
  5. Joosef Arjalainen said:

    Outstanding short documentary!

    April 28, 2015
    Reply
  6. Devin Perdue said:

    Wish it was longer

    April 28, 2015
    Reply
  7. Lucas Kroon said:

    Pretty interesting that i just used the EBOT in battlefield and this video popped up

    April 28, 2015
    Reply
  8. mn4a15 said:

    Excellent video

    April 28, 2015
    Reply
  9. LouB3rt said:

    3:40 does that guy blow up? or is it on the road? That is crazy…

    April 28, 2015
    Reply
  10. tov ylixir said:

    Pointless….we already knew all this Motherboard. Would've been cooler if you had access to the the ach robots. This was just ….meh

    April 28, 2015
    Reply
  11. 09marcius said:

    More

    April 28, 2015
    Reply
  12. Marxvn said:

    I hope the report isn't a massive bitch this time.

    April 28, 2015
    Reply
  13. DStray Cat said:

    Great story 🙂

    April 28, 2015
    Reply
  14. Joyce Nigro said:

    Brian was my son's Capt. He was stationed at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas. My son is a combat wounded vet now medically retired.

    April 28, 2015
    Reply
  15. Bas Bah said:

    I've talked to many veterans and most of them miss the war

    April 28, 2015
    Reply
  16. Jon LeSouef said:

    مرحبا، هذا هو مجرد اختبار لمعرفة كيف عنصرية الناس. أراهن نصف الناس أن قراءة هذا لن يترجم، وأنها سوف مجرد افتراض انها "الموت لأمريكا"، أو شيء من هذا القبيل. صحيح؟

    April 28, 2015
    Reply
  17. Knurling_Turtle said:

    The "ambient" tone behind the voice is the wrong pitch and way too loud.   Love the content though.

    April 28, 2015
    Reply
  18. Masaharu Morimoto said:

    Good stuff!

    April 28, 2015
    Reply
  19. Marco Medina said:

    Best part 4:45 we name our robot either as USF fighters or porn starts ;D

    April 29, 2015
    Reply
  20. erik nydam said:

    Let's end these pointless wars. Face it, we were lied to and the wars are unjustifiable. I didn't say I didn't support the troops, I said the war is pointless, stupid and a waste of life and money.

    April 29, 2015
    Reply
  21. Senk Yoghurt said:

    This is so awesome. We have drones, and now this. Robots are the god damn future! Better to to pit robots against each other than people anyway.

    April 29, 2015
    Reply
  22. books from Windblown said:

    We have seen 3 mobile robot type one robotic bomb and two drones and three guns robot i wonder whats next mobile robot be

    April 29, 2015
    Reply
  23. Dr. Varsims said:

    Thumbs down! This whole video in one sentence, "We go to war, war fucked up, we use robots, robots help some, I leave war, I almost have PTSD." The only thing I learned here is that soldiers named a few of their robots, based off UFC fighters and porn stars.

    Don't get me wrong, war sucks and soldiers deserve respect, this video however, does not.

    April 29, 2015
    Reply
  24. Bsjy Eaz said:

    Tough. I look forward to newer (perhaps quantum physics inspired) technologies to disarm various weapons.

    April 29, 2015
    Reply
  25. Space Monkey said:

    USA is such a miley cyrus shit land, only thing they can is takeing slaves and makeing war, i am so happy i life in switzerland and not in such a shithole of a country like USA.

    April 29, 2015
    Reply
  26. Manuel H. said:

    The "video game style controllers" are actual gamepads…FYI

    April 29, 2015
    Reply
  27. 420k subs with no vids said:

    hey guys plz help me reach 420k subs with no vids, ty

    May 2, 2015
    Reply
  28. Ignite said:

    you guys need to stop your dirty game of showing kurdistan region as independent. its a part of iraq

    May 5, 2015
    Reply
  29. Michael said:

    6:46 lol his jacket is the same as the other guys pants same with the other guy

    May 9, 2015
    Reply
  30. SUP richie said:

    one day AI will take over, one more Robot to add to Judgment day.

    May 11, 2015
    Reply
  31. Michael Kair said:

    today 2states best in world about robotehniks-USA and Israel

    May 13, 2015
    Reply
  32. ssh83 said:

    This is where evil people gets an edge.  ISIS or Nazi would've just point a gun at a captive/kid then force them to go and move IED out of the road.  They don't lose soldier, and they don't lose tech.

    June 5, 2015
    Reply
  33. Naiuhz said:

    4:41
    ayyy lmao

    June 29, 2015
    Reply
  34. 雑草という草はない said:

    こういうリモコン戦車って憧れるわ。何で21世紀にもなって歩兵が銃持って突撃せないかんのだ

    July 10, 2016
    Reply
  35. zooeyhall said:

    Oh wow…some geek constantly talking, bragging "we name our robots after porn stars!", some stock explosions….but very little showing robots actually disarming a bomb.

    January 11, 2017
    Reply
  36. Romairo Mazariegos said:

    I like that book

    July 2, 2018
    Reply
  37. Derek said:

    Thank you for your service and for protecting our guys and gals.👍🇺🇸

    August 19, 2018
    Reply
  38. Richie O said:

    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe1dyYFYIv3Sa-pvAdjkVRf5_BawRXj-raT8Ye2RwRyEKts8g/viewform?usp=sf_link

    March 4, 2019
    Reply

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