Into Harm’s Way
E Squadron (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) was raised as an independent force troops squadron on 15 August 2005 by Cabinet, with the original name 1st New Zealand Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squadron. On 15 July 2009, the Squadron was transferred to the operational command of the Commanding Officer 1 NZSAS Regt and designated within Special Operations Forces as E Squadron 1.
The principal role of E Squadron (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) is to render safe all explosive ordnance, including improvised explosives and chemical, biological and radiological explosive devices, found in New Zealand above the waterline. The Squadron’s secondary role is to provide support to its parent unit as well as other Government agencies and conventional military forces as required.
E Squadron will also maintain an ability to support special and conventional operations as part of expeditionary task forces.
The E Squadron emblem has three elements. The Kaitiaki are two alert sentinels representing vigilance, force and ethics. The Fairbairn-Sykes knife represents precision. The motto represents courage in the service of others.
In New Zealand Māori culture, Kaitiaki are guardians. In the E Squadron emblem there are two Kaitiaki standing guard, ever alert. Neither Kaitiaki have any surface decoration and therefore are not tied to any particular iwi (tribe). To represent both New Zealand’s Māori and its European origins, the Kaitiaki are named after two Christian saints.
The Kaitiaki on the left represents Saint Michael. The Kaitiaki on the right represents Saint Barbara. Both saints are venerated in the West and the East, ensuring that the E Squadron emblem can be explained both in New Zealand and abroad. Saint Michael is the patron saint of soldiers. In Scripture, his role is that of a warrior and an angel of mercy. In the E Squadron emblem, he represents the EOD role of defending others. Saint Barbara is the patron saint of EOD personnel. She is remembered as an example of God’s ability to protect against lightning, fire and sudden death. To E Squadron personnel the world over Saint Barbara represents protection against accidental explosions. Together, the two Kaitiaki are well matched to guard E Squadron operators as they defend others from explosive harm.
The concept of alert sentinels is also linked to the original EOD whakatauki (proverb) which was given to the Squadron by the family of the first Officer Commanding. Like four points of the compass, the four exhortations call on EOD personnel to be trained and ready to deal with threats from all directions and in any guise.
Kia Hiwa Ra, Tū Matatu
Kia Ara, Tū Inamata
Be Vigilant, Stand Firm
Be Prepared, Stand Poised
Central to the emblem is a Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife in the ‘whakata’ (stand-by) position. This represents readiness. The Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife is frequently used to represent elite forces. In the New Zealand context, the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife represents Special Operations Forces other than the New Zealand Special Air Service and the Directorate of Special Operations, who are represented by the sword Excalibur. Notwithstanding, the knife is still close enough to Excalibur to ensure that there is a sense of cohesion between New Zealand’s Special Operations Forces emblems. The knife itself is a very precise fighting tool. To be effective EOD operators must be precise, calm and methodical when defusing deadly devices, regardless of whether the environment is benign or perilous. Standing vigilant and supporting the knife’s blade, the two Kaitiaki act as an ethical compass to ensure that force, should it be required, is only ever used for good.
The motto ‘Into Harm’s Way’ describes a unit whose role tests the mettle of the bravest and most resourceful soldier. It creates a bond among those who wear it and communicates to others that E Squadron members put themselves into danger, and sometimes may have to make the ultimate sacrifice, to protect others from harm.
1 The shorthand is E Sqn (EOD)