EOD training at home for overseas operations
Airman 1st Class Monica Benzien, 3rd Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) journeyman, mentally prepares herself before attempting to move a 75-pound simulated explosive during a training exercise, June 17. EOD members train weekly on proper disposal of ordinance. (Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jack Sanders)
by Airman 1st Class Jack Sanders
6/22/2010 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The spotlight is on you and the pressure of everyone watching feels like a roaring fire that only gets worse as you move the clipper closer and closer to the three wires -- red, blue, green -- which one do you choose to cut before it's too late?
Although that scenario might not be how explosive ordnance disposal works in real life, members of the 3rd Civil Engineer Squadron's (CES) Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team train weekly here in order to save lives in deployed locations.
The EOD team is widely known as the group that neutralizes explosives at deployed locations, but when they are back home, what they do is just as important.
"We train a few days a week," said Tech. Sgt. Derek Keener, NCO in charge of 3rd CES, EOD inspections. "Our main job is in a deployed setting is getting rid of explosive hazards like IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices)."
When most people think of EOD, they think of a guy in a large bomb suit snipping wires to defuse an explosive just a few seconds before it goes off, but in reality, an EOD team member usually follows different procedures.
Instead of taking the time to try and defuse explosives, an EOD team member attaches his/her own detonation device to the threat to neutralize it using a smaller detonation to prevent a larger one, according to Sergeant Keener.
"In a deployed environment, we try to use explosive methods first, because we are trying to get rid of the risk as quickly as possible to get the mission completed," Sergeant Keener said.
"We don't want to be trying to defuse an explosive and then suddenly start taking fire from an enemy," Sergeant Keener added.
If there should be an explosive threat at home on base, however, things would be a bit different for removing the hazard.
"When we're at home station, we have time to take precautions to try and avoid explosions at all cost," said Airman 1st Class Monica Benzien, 3rd CES, an EOD apprentice.
It is because of these situations that the EOD team trains so frequently. The training can be hard at times, but in a deployed environment, the enemy is not going to make things easy for you, said Sergeant Keener.
"When you're new to wearing that (bomb) suit, it's kind of like wearing a gas mask for the first time -- you can only focus on one thing at a time," said Sergeant Keener.
Airman Benzien, a California native, said the suit can be challenging because "it's a little hard to think when you're in there," she said.
The EOD team does do demolition here, on a safe range, for qualification training and experience.
Air Force EOD teams work closely with all other services while deployed.
"EOD is a real example of joint forces, we work with all four services while deployed because things don't always happen in the norm," Sergeant Keener said.
Whether they are training to remove explosive ordnance here or detonating ones overseas, the 3rd CES EOD team is keeping military members safe, Airman Benzien said.