Chuck O’Connor: Expect your operational use of an explosive entry charge to be viciously attacked by the defense attorneys as unwarranted, excessive force, and negligent. Negative public perception agendas can enhance attack strategies against the justified use of explosive entry.

About the author

Chuck O’Connor is a retired Navy SEAL with 44 years of tactical explosive experience, 38 years dedicated to explosive entry operations performed in active urban environments, not range facilities.

Chuck has developed multiple counter terrorism training and advisement programs for LE, military special duty assignments and bomb squads throughout the world.

His explosive entry course is DHS/FEMA approved and funding for hosting of the course is eligible through the Homeland Security Grant Program.

Chuck is looking forward to get your feedback or actively discuss the topic of this article with active operators and/or industry SME. Do not hesitate to reach out:

Contact Chuck at:


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Discussion Part 2: Developing Urban Detonation Subject Matter Expertise for Non-Linear Systems’ Applications

The Article

Contact Chuck at:

The following review issue is about developing operator firsthand experience.

Safety, injury, and liability reduction require the operators’ responsibility to perform explosive entry as urban detonation subject matter experts (SMEs).

SME status is recognized by documented firsthand experience under the conditions the operator performs all tactical procedures.

Expect your operational use of an explosive entry charge to be viciously attacked by the defense attorneys as unwarranted, excessive force, and negligent.

Negative public perception agendas can enhance attack strategies against the justified use of explosive entry.

Your protection from liabilities, successful criminal convictions must be supported by your agency’s chain of command.

Also, the jurisdictional explosive safety oversight authority must certify your use of explosives and urban detonation subject matter expertise.

Since operators are accountable for the results of the detonation, this SME development concept is based on processes to reduce liability.

This methodology supports the validation of efficient safety and TTP design.


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Why it matters to understand urban detonation realities and risks from firsthand experiences

Detonations must be performed and documented in active urban environments – identifying all applicable hazards created by the detonation as affected by the charge configuration interacting with the physical surroundings; unique for each urban detonation on both sides of the entry point.

This is not possible to perform on a range.

These urban detonations are required to validate:

• Factual charge performance and confirm optimal charge load data (which is different compared with façade arrangements).

• Identifying mission essential personnel safety procedures, risks to crime scene occupants, and the extent of potential property damage prior to detonation.

• How to identify the conditions when an explosive entry charge is not safe to detonate.

• Post detonation problems to rapidly clear the entry point, potential entry point injury hazards, and conditions created that could jeopardize effective tactical response.

• TTP development with tactical team participation during day and night conditions.

Your agency’s executive staff, legal personnel, and jurisdictional explosive safety oversight authority POCs must periodically participate.

These personnel need to understand urban detonation realities and risks from firsthand experiences to authorize and certify your explosive entry capability.

Urban detonation SME status is not achieved by:

• Sterile, artificial environment experiences (ranges or test facilities)

• Narrow focus on overpressure as a standalone hazard whether studied on a range or on structures

• Watching videos

• Remote witnessing of operator’s training

• Reading references, reports, or written works of others

Urban detonation SMEs are required to explain to non-explosive educated authorities how your detonation affects non-mission essential personnel, the public, crime scene occupants, and surrounding infrastructure items prior to the detonation.

Explanations must be accurate while simplifying all detonation hazards’ complex, technical, and scientific information.

Agency executive staff, attorneys, judges, and juries must clearly and entirely understand the results of your detonation.

This includes your process for risk assessment and injury/damage reduction procedures from all hazards on both sides of the entry point prior to performing the urban detonation.

Explanations are supported by documented firsthand experiences.

The disconnect between Academia and Operator Non-Linear Realities

Academic achievement is an impressive personal accomplishment.

But it does not provide the firsthand experiences required to be an urban detonation SME.

There is no doctoral or engineering program of any field dedicated to:

• Wearing mission-essential equipment during each urban detonation to validate safety protocols with the doctoral applicant’s or engineer’s body and brain.

• Study urban detonations with an “all-hazards” methodology focused on both sides of the breach point for developing appropriate risk assessment procedures and TTPs.

• Uncomplicate technical and scientific explanations of detonation and resulting hazard effects during urban detonations.

This disconnect continues to impact the explosive entry culture negatively.

Another cultural consideration is that research activities are in competition which tends to produce biased results.

Testing conditions are gamed to support their tasked conclusions:

• That is an acceptable procedure to prove a concept, but it is only the start point, not the conclusion.

• The biased results must be validated by an independent, unbiased authority(s) to confirm or reject the final results.

• There has never been a requirement for any research activities’ personnel to validate proposed safety protocols with their bodies and brains after long-term exposures while performing urban detonations before allowing operators to use these procedures.

Therefore, these activities should never be the final authority to dictate explosive entry safety procedures.

Operators must request the data that researchers exposed their bodies and brains to truly validate proposed safety procedures.

If they do not present this personally developed long-term data, do not automatically accept their conclusions.

If you are the supervisor for the team, do not allow unconfirmed safety procedures to become doctrine or SOP.

The research industry is an incredible mechanism that identifies and designs remarkable improvements for challenges but has never improved operator safety during explosive entry.

It is not a matter of intellect or lack of funding.

The primary reason for this disconnect is the lack of operator experience.

Additionally, none of these individuals or activities will be liable for the results of your detonation.

This is not a criticism.

However, since the late 1980s, the explosive entry improvement tasking objectives and deliverables by the operator community have been flawed.

Operators must preserve the qualities of the research culture and task our research activities to operate with full potential that maximizes their talents and intellects.


Operators and your agency require documented firsthand urban detonation experiences that identify how to prevent injuries and determine the extent of property damage, including liability reduction protocols adaptable to the unique realities of each urban detonation.

No other explosive disciplines’ preparations, applications, procedures, use of simulated overpressure flow technologies, or supporting research activities are designed for this purpose.

What appears logical in a classroom presentation or during range training but was never practiced in urban environments is not a validation of recommended risk assessments or safety protocols.

No one knows it all, nor is there one way appropriate for every situation.

Very clever and excellent experiences are being performed every day.

Still, these experiences have been and continue to be overshadowed by proven dangerous protocols.

Depending on the resources providing education and training, operators are at risk for short- and long-term injury/health complications, mission failure, and liability, whether intentional or not.

Discussion Part Three will review how to organize urban detonation data collection opportunities, what specifically needs to be documented, and why.


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Photos by Chuck O‘Connor