EOD sharpens skills

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan
  • 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Airmen from the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron at Luke Air Force Base and other Air Force units around the region participated in the third annual EOD combat predeployment training exercise dubbed "Operation Enduring Training" from Sept. 3 through 7 at the Barry M. Goldwater Range in Gila Bend south west of Luke.

The exercise maintains combat readiness in EOD teams by exposing them to the operational tempo expected of them in actual combat zones, and simulates living conditions, hostile environments and explosive threats that deployed EOD Airmen regularly face.

"The purpose of the training is to reinforce the easily perishable skills needed in running contingency operations in a time where deployments are few and far between," said Senior Airman William Riddle, 56th CES EOD team leader and instructor. "The training exercises the mental and physical capabilities necessary to handle high pressure situations."

The multi-day continuous exercise takes place at the Barry M. Goldwater Range in Gila Bend southwest of Phoenix. Littered in shells, casings and inert practice munitions dropped by a wide variety of aircraft over many years, the range is a huge remote stretch of dry, flat desert studded by hills, cliff sides and arid vegetation.

"The range complex does an incredible job of simulating the environment of the Middle East," Riddle said. "All of the problems the teams faced were derived in some fashion from reports gathered throughout the entirety of the Operation Enduring Freedom campaign in Afghanistan."

Teams faced scenarios in which they had to find, defuse and destroy both improvised explosive devices and conventional unexploded ordnance commonly found in enemy weapons caches, all while facing the constant threat of simulated enemy attacks and ambushes. Additionally, teams spent significant time at the firing range to improve individual combat skills.

"The EOD Airmen involved in this training are given the opportunity to practice and enhance necessary skills like small-team tactics, live-fire shooting, contingency IED problems, and living and setting up a bare fire base," Riddle said.

As the landscape of today's wars begins to shift and change, the continued benefits of the exercise are extraordinarily important to not only EOD Airmen, but the entire military community, Riddle said.

"As the drawdown of combat deployments continues, this training serves to augment skills already learned and teach newer EOD technicians the skills that could ultimately save countless lives."