INDIAN HEAD, MD — Lt. Thomas Cowhey, a Platoon Leader with Expeditionary Exploitation Unit One (EXU-1) located at Naval Support Facility Indian Head, Maryland, received the Rear Admiral Draper L. Kauffman Leadership Award on Sept. 29. Kauffman organized the first U.S. Navy Demolition Teams in 1943 and is widely regarded as one of the forefathers of explosive ordnance disposal (EOD). The annual award is presented to an EOD officer who serves in a platoon or company commander position.
Cowhey excelled as EXU-1 Platoon Five Commander and twice deployed as Commander, Task Group 75.9 (CTG 75.9). His actions allowed for the collection, processing, exploitation and dissemination of technical intelligence reports of conventional and improvised weapons systems, electronic components, documents/media and unmanned systems.
“Lt. Cowhey is incredibly deserving of this award. He demonstrated superior professionalism, aptitude and leadership and is worthy of distinction across a field of supremely talented Navy EOD junior officers,” said EXU-1 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Edgar Britt. “In addition to [his] personal recognition, I’m proud and humbled by the work of our EXU-1 teammates who enabled his success — this is a team win.”
Cowhey also commanded a unit of action consisting of senior government foreign policy advisors, electronic engineers and intelligence specialists among others, while supporting two Level II Rapid Material Analysis Cell-Pacific (RMAC-P) labs in both Thailand and the Philippines.
His skill and operational planning led to the establishment of RMAC-P Thailand Lab in Hua Hin Province, filling critical U.S. intelligence gaps and enabling greater capacity for the Royal Thai Army and Police to counter extremist threats in its southern provinces. His team also exploited ordnance during Exercise Cobra Gold — an annual multinational military exercise held in the Kingdom of Thailand — enabling critical EOD publication coverage. Cowhey proved his command and operational skill again with the movement of the RMAC-P Philippines Lab to Northern Luzon in support of the Philippine Naval Special Operations Group.
Cowhey also demonstrated tactical proficiency during the 2019 Easter bombings in Sri Lanka where his team supported an international terrorism investigation at the request of the Department of State and FBI.
“I am humbled and honored to receive this award. It is a testament to the entire command and I am proud of the recognition it brings to all of the great work that happens here,” Cowhey said. “From the senior leaders who empower their subordinates to the chiefs who show unyielding dedication to the mission, EXU-1 is an incredible organization that deserves all the credit.”
EXU-1 was commissioned in June 2018 as an Echelon V Command reporting to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division (NSWC IHD). NSWC IHD Commanding Officer Capt. Scott Kraft serves as the Immediate Superior in Command to EXU-1.
NSWC IHD — a field activity of the Naval Sea Systems Command and part of the Navy's Science and Engineering Establishment — is the leader in ordnance, energetics, and EOD solutions. The Division focuses on energetics research, development, testing, evaluation, in-service support, and disposal; and provides warfighters solutions to detect, locate, access, identify, render safe, recover, exploit, and dispose of explosive ordnance threats.