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EOD conducts overnight training exercise

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.— Explosive ordnance disposal teams assigned to the 99th Civil Engineer Squadron executed an overnight exercise June 7-8 at the Nevada Test and Training Range as part of their deployment readiness exercises.

From roadside bombs to hostage situations, the EOD technicians had to identify the threat and defeat it without triggering a detonation.

“When we created the scenarios, a few of us had quite a bit of deployment experience and came together to develop the most realistic problems that could mimic the things we’ve seen in the past,” said Tech. Sgt. Robert Brousseau, 99th CES EOD quality assurance branch NCO in charge.

The training proctors divided the technicians into three teams and assigned them various real-world inspired scenarios they had to face. This was also a new location for the teams, so there was no home-field advantage.

“Exposing our Airmen to these scenarios in a training environment allows us to work out any kinks,” said Staff Sgt. John Mitchell, 99th CES EOD team leader. “In our line of work, we don’t get a second chance.”

A team pulled up to their first scenario where a roadside bomb posed a threat to a convoy route. They were told one explosive had already detonated and the convoy spotted another just a few feet in front of them. The team had to act fast to evacuate the injured and disable the threat. Although the team was unfamiliar with the training location, they successfully located, identified and defused the explosive.

As night fell, the teams faced a new scenario involving remote controlled explosive devices. One of the teams responded to reports of unusual activity on the side of a dirt road. Under the cover of darkness, the teams donned on their night vision goggles and began searching the area for anything that seemed out of place.

They discovered a hidden explosive which, if triggered, would simulate the destruction of the entire road. The team began carefully clearing the surrounding area and began defusing the roadside bomb. Although this was a low-light situation, the team was able to successfully defuse the explosive.

“The goal was for the teams to step outside their comfort zone and be able to operate in both day and night,” said Brousseau.

Early the next morning, one of the teams responded to a simulated kidnapping in a village. As the team arrived, they were surrounded by buildings which are commonly found in deployed environments. After searching through the buildings, they finally reached the kidnapped victim, but there was a bigger issue. They noticed the kidnapped victim had a suicide vest attached to them and immediately the stakes were raised.

Not only did the team have to rescue the victim, they had to first defuse and remove the vest to ensure everyone’s safety. After calming the victim down and carefully identifying the method they would use to defuse the bomb, the team swiftly executed their plan and successfully freed the victim after defusing the vest.

Mitchell said the types of improvised explosive devices available are limitless. It comes down to the bomb maker’s knowledge, resources, materials and their imagination.

“We wanted to take some of our newer Airmen and show them tactics, training and procedures that they haven’t had extensive training on,” said Brousseau.

By combining their experiences and technical knowledge, the teams were able to operate during day and night conditions in an unfamiliar location and successfully defeat each scenario they faced.

In a world where there are no second chances and failure can have catastrophic results, the 99th CES EOD technicians proved they are ready for the unexpected in any deployed environment, day or night.