EOD Airmen maintain readiness

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --

The 56th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal Airmen participated in the fifth annual exercise called Operation Enduring Training Feb. 6 to Feb. 10 at the Barry M. Goldwater Range located southwest of Luke Air Force Base in Gila Bend, Ariz.

The purpose of the exercise was to allow EOD Airmen the opportunity to gain pre-deployed combat experience while being exposed to contingency operations. The five-day training exercise took place at the Barry M. Goldwater Range; 1.7 million acres of arid desert landscape that simulate the living conditions of a deployed environment.

“We work really hard to make it as close to a combat environment as we can,” said Capt. Ben Riggles, 56th CES EOD flight commander. “When we go out to the range we stay there overnight, sleep in tents, and operate as if we are in a deployed environment.”

The training exercise covered an array of deployed scenarios consisting of large-scale demolitions, combat life-saving training, weapons training, mounted and dismounted contingency operations.

“Operation Enduring Training gave our team the opportunity to focus on training on our primary missions,” said Chief Master Sgt. Vincent Pagano, 56th CES EOD flight chief. “This training was a way we could culminate all of our job skills to get out there and make sure our people are trained when they are called to deploy.”

This training also provided a learning experience for new EOD Airmen.

“This training is extremely important for our newer Airmen because it gives them the opportunity to learn some valuable lessons from our experienced team leaders while receiving the combat experience,” Riggles said.

Passing on knowledge from seasoned EOD leaders was one of the biggest objectives of this exercise.

“Being the newest Airman here, It was interesting to actually see how operations were run,” said Airman 1st Class Peter Connolly, 56th CES EOD team member. “You learn a lot from the team leaders and see how they operate in real world operations. “This was hands down the most beneficial training I've received in the military.”