SOUTHWEST ASIA – One of the biggest defense mechanisms of any expeditionary air base is the ability to launch aircraft to neutralize threats. Several 380th Air Expeditionary Wing agencies are charged with getting air operations back up and running as soon as possible should the flightline or runway be attacked. The 380th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight is the first to arrive in this scenario.
Working with engineer’s assistants and the bomb removal team from the heavy vehicle operators shop, EOD is tasked with clearing any munitions, rendering safe a large area for base recovery after an attack and enabling base operations to resume. They are required to clear the airfield and create an airstrip to get aircraft back up in the air to provide defense.
“Just like anywhere else, we focus on the threat that we believe to be most likely and we train based upon that threat,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jeremy Moody, 380th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal technician. “Base recovery after an attack is a big machine operating in a very short period of time that allows us to get back up and win the fight.”
According to Moody, training for base recovery after an attack is on-going; it’s the 380th CES EOD’s most important skillset. The team needs to make sure they can address the threats that may be present in the area including base defense operations and counter-IED training.
Training on average three days a week, the EOD team covers flightline support, improvised explosive devices, conventional munitions, and base crisis response training.
EODs flightline support responsibility encompasses anything explosive on an aircraft from a strip of explosive to detach a cockpit canopy to flares on a KC-10 Extender. If something malfunctions, EOD responds and renders safe the explosives.
In addition, EOD always trains for IEDs, suicide bomber scenarios, which come into play in the EOD career field, said Moody. This includes suspicious packages and suspicious vehicles, as well as keeping up on enemy tactics, techniques and procedures.
“We are another layer in this installations base defense,” said Moody. “We work with the fire department, emergency management, security forces and other crisis response agencies to ensure any explosive threat is taken care of.”
The mission is very similar to a stateside base, said Moody. The support operations are outstanding and provide a break from some of the physical, emotional and psychological stress of a typical EOD deployment elsewhere.
At other deployed locations, EOD deals with IEDs day-to-day, said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dwayne Ferguson, 380th ECES EOD team lead. The mission sets and training are not necessarily different here, but priorities are different due to different threats, personnel and property.
“If EOD was not here in a real base recovery after attack scenario, the runway wouldn’t be cleared and planes wouldn’t be able to fly,” said Ferguson. “Our job in almost every scenario is to return the base back to normal operations and keep people safe. This is why we are so focused on training so that when the call comes we deliver. Being an EOD technician is a challenging but extremely rewarding profession.