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NEWS | Nov. 9, 2017

EOD Airmen ensure mission readiness with total force training

By Airman 1st Class Allison Payne Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Airmen with the 628th Civil Engineer Squadron and reservist members of the 315th CES completed a four-day training course at the Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station EOD range, S.C., Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 2017.

Airmen participated in multiple training scenarios featuring potential bomb threats. The training featured the use of a REMOTEC Andros F6A robot, EOD bomb suits, X-ray systems and a Percussion Actuated Neutralizer machine.

“The 315th CES EOD came to us and asked if we would be interested in coordinating this training with them,” said Staff Sgt. Kyle Bushey, 628th CES EOD civil engineer. “Our leadership fully supported this training operation because we saw it as an excellent opportunity to bring all of our EOD guys together.”

Coordination between the 628th CES and 315th CES EOD members made the training possible. Bushey said it required many man hours from his entire shop to prepare for it. Members designed scenarios featuring different types of bomb threats to challenge the participants.

“Myself and Tech. Sgt. Morrison have been setting up for this training for the past couple weeks,” said Bushey. “We want to ensure the 315th CES EOD members are trained to the level we are trained, so no matter what situation we may encounter, we all have the same skill level. We have a great relationship with the 315th CES EOD members and, thankfully, we’re able to work with them a lot. We’re always working to make sure they’re receiving the best training they can get.”

One of the training scenarios consisted of a vibrantly-colored backpack found unattended. Unattended bags have been used to conceal and house explosive devices. Tech. Sgt. Melissa Aubrey, 315th CES EOD craftsman, took X-rays of the backpack to assess whether or not an explosive was inside. During this exercise, Aubrey wore an EOD bomb suit to ensure her protection. A bomb suit is a heavy suit of body armor designed to withstand the pressure generated by a bomb and any fragments it may produce. EOD personnel wear bomb suits when the threat of an explosion is present.

Another participant in the exercise, Senior Airman Matthew Koser, 315th CES EOD apprentice, controlled the REMOTEC Andros F6A robot to investigate suspicious containers inside a van. The use of robots removes the direct risk EOD personnel are often exposed to during everyday operations. Until recently, EOD personnel dealt with the threat of explosives. Currently, the use of robots, such as the REMOTEC Andros F6A, makes it possible to handle explosives from a safe distance away. The robot model Koser used weighs more than 450 pounds.

“Active duty guys do this every day and I’ve learned from being in Airman Leadership School the past month it’s easy to find yourself rusty on skills you’ve acquired,” said Koser. “Since active duty EOD members get to keep up with training on a daily basis, they have experience and knowledge impossible to get through a couple days out of a month. It’s definitely necessary for reservists to train with active duty members to continue being efficient in our jobs. We’re the experts on dealing with explosive hazards. Overseas improvised explosive devices are a huge threat and we’re the people responsible for responding safely to that threat. Without EOD doing our job properly, there would be a lot more IED casualties, which highlights how vital our job is to the mission.”

EOD members who participated in the four-day training said it was a successful training operation and they look forward to future operations involving both the 628th CES and 315th CES EOD.

“I really hope everyone enjoyed this training and expanded their knowledge,” said Bushey. “The goal was to brush the dust off and get refreshed and come back into the EOD mindset. Overall I just hope everyone is able to take away an understanding of why it's important to train, why it's important to have such a high level of professionalism and why being in the right mindset is always crucial in our career field."