HomeNewsArticle Display

Playing with fire; EOD technicians hone response skills

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Juan Ortiz, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron EOD flight, controls a PACBOT bomb disposal robot from inside a mine resistant ambush protected all-terrain vehicle at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, March 21, 2017. Ortiz was working a nighttime operations scenario during exercise “Vigilant Walrus” in order to train for bomb threats while using night vision capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Miles Wilson)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Juan Ortiz, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron EOD flight, controls a PACBOT bomb disposal robot from inside a mine resistant ambush protected all-terrain vehicle at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, March 21, 2017. Ortiz was working a nighttime operations scenario during exercise “Vigilant Walrus” in order to train for bomb threats while using night vision capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Miles Wilson)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Pifer, left, and Staff Sgt. Brent Points, both explosive ordnance disposal technicians with the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight, move an F6A bomb disposal robot at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, March 17, 2017. Both Brent and Pifer deployed from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, along with two other EOD technicians. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Miles Wilson)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Pifer, left, and Staff Sgt. Brent Points, both explosive ordnance disposal technicians with the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight, move an F6A bomb disposal robot at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, March 17, 2017. Both Brent and Pifer deployed from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, along with two other EOD technicians. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Miles Wilson)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Juan Ortiz, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, places a C4 charge inside of the new EOD range at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, March 17, 2017. The new EOD range at Al Udeid allows for the EOD technicians to train with live explosives, as well as acts as an location for emergency detonations of munitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Miles Wilson)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Juan Ortiz, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, places a C4 charge inside of the new EOD range at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, March 17, 2017. The new EOD range at Al Udeid allows for the EOD technicians to train with live explosives, as well as acts as an location for emergency detonations of munitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Miles Wilson)

AL UDEID AIR BASE, QATAR (AFNS) -- Most of the crew is asleep, but for a few members. Outside, the sun is peaking over the horizon, sending long shadows across the terrain and buildings. Suddenly a loud banging from the door echoes through the hallway, breaking the silence and waking up the crew. The banging continues, and an Airman opens the door to discover a panic-stricken Airman holding onto her uniform blouse, wires protruding from various pockets and a loud ticking noise coming from her back. Immediately the Airman who opened the door recognizes the threat: a hostage outfitted with a bomb vest.

This is one scenario that members of the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight faced during exercise “Vigilant Walrus,” a four-day exercise that consisted of various scenarios that tested EOD members’ skill, knowledge and endurance.

The training was conducted to help provide EOD technicians with the threat analysis and critical thinking skills required in order to safely and effectively handle any threats they may face, particularly if they forward deploy. Aside from the mental training aspect, the exercise also forced Airmen to operate and work with limited resources and limited rest, mirroring situations experienced in a forward-deployed environment.

“The exercises that we throw at our teams are derived from intelligence reports from EOD teams in the field,” said Capt. Daniel Blomberg, the 379th ECES EOD Flight commander. “They are compounded problems that we have to combat with limited personnel and limited resources.”

The EOD technicians were forced to work out of mine resistant ambush protected all-terrain vehicles and use limited gear, with little support from other agencies during the exercise. During night operations, crews were not allowed to use white light, making the scenarios more challenging and realistic.

“The scenarios involved a breach in the perimeter, and when that happens and you have white light, you become a target,” Blomberg said. “Not using white light forces the team to learn to operate using night vision goggles and in vehicles that are equipped to help them see at night, and makes a scenario completely different than during the day.”

Blomberg explained that NVG’s and the cameras on robots and M-ATV’s drastically altered depth perception and peripheral views, as well as provided very limited lines of sight. Because of these complications, a simple scenario during the day becomes increasingly complex at night.

“These are perishable skills,” said Blomberg. “If you don’t practice operating at night, you’re going to be in for a bad time.”

Aside from utilizing various tools, equipment and vehicles to complete their training, EOD technicians were able to practice using live explosives thanks to a brand new EOD range, which saw its first use on Feb. 10, 2017.

During Vigilant Walrus, EOD technicians utilized the new range as a staging point for scenarios, as well as a location for disposing munitions and explosives.

“The range allows us to train with almost all of our explosives and explosive tools in a safe and controlled environment,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Metts, an EOD technician with the 379th ECES. “The range allows us to continue to strengthen our technical skills by utilizing our demolition explosives, and also acts as an emergency disposal location in the event of any improvised explosive ordnance or damaged munitions identified by munitions personnel.”

EOD personnel were able to accomplish a variety of training during the exercise, ranging from night vision operations to dealing with airfield bombings. Over the four days, the technicians were constantly on their toes and never knew when the next call would occur, but their endurance and perseverance paid off in the end.

“The exercise gave the (EOD technicians) the training, knowledge and experience that, if a call occurred along the lines of what they saw, would allow them to respond much faster,” said Blomberg. “We would be ready to go and react in probably a quarter of the time that would have taken prior to the exercise.”

Engage

Twitter
In trying times, #USAF readiness remains. Aviano Air Base's 606th Air Control Squadron deployed Airmen and assets… https://t.co/C1DS0qxLAl
Twitter
Keeping our technological advantage. #InnovativeAF https://t.co/10yOg5g0nX
Twitter
Night ops in support of @SecAFOfficial's Arctic Strategy. Airmen train on nighttime airborne ops at Joint Base Elm… https://t.co/2RTLbL26A6
Twitter
Join Dr. Will Roper for an Ask Me Anything on Oct. 26 from 2:30-4:00 p.m. It will focus on Deep Tech & Moonshots: H… https://t.co/JzXk2G7gTE
Twitter
Strengthening international partnerships. #ReadyAF https://t.co/XPKWn6rx5Z
Twitter
Supporting senior leader priorities by modernizing the force! #InnovativeAF https://t.co/l7ki9ffj6m
Twitter
Herculian birds in the sky 🦅 🦅 🦅 The 120th Airlift Wing tested their readiness w/a 6-ship formation of C-130 Her… https://t.co/UNqpKf1UkC
Twitter
“The #COVID19 crisis has dynamically changed our entire world." Dover AFB is the first @AirMobilityCmd base to con… https://t.co/Q2idnUCxoo
Twitter
Join Dr. Will Roper for an Ask Me Anything on Oct. 26 from 2:30-4:00 p.m. It will focus on Deep Tech & Moonshots: H… https://t.co/zXtgKlx455
Twitter
Dominate the EMS The Electromagnetic Spectrum exists in Air, Space, & Cyberspace. Whether you’re at home or in com… https://t.co/N9dhhB3D9n
Twitter
Supporting the Department of the Air Force Arctic Strategy. From development to ops in less than a year! These inn… https://t.co/kDXsw1hJ8P
Twitter
Taking care of people The Women’s Health Transition Training, which is offered virtually, provides information on… https://t.co/yL9UQ0V9rf
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: I believe that success takes a team, but failure you can do alone. Grateful for the chance to sit down and connect with a…
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: A new $33 million contract is increasing #COVID19 testing capabilities at 42 #military treatment facilities across the @usairf
Twitter
Accelerate change or lose. @GenCQBrownJr expressed his vision for fulfilling the Air Force's mission and protectin… https://t.co/t2iHEW5yAM
Twitter
RT @airforcerso: Every operation and campaign is only as strong as its supply chain. Tune into #AMO2020 today to watch teams compete in a w…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Thank you to @MilFamiliesMag for talking with Sharene and me today. The wellbeing of our families is essential to the suc…
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: While many people are sleeping, Maintainers are still hard at work... Our teammates Ellsworth AFB, shared a picture of…
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: It’s the Airmen who aren’t in this photo that I want to talk about. They are out there right now turning wrenches, gene…
Twitter
RT @airforcerso: 13 teams are competing to help the @USAirForce with better performing, more cost-effective & reliable technology that prod…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,296,731
Follow Us