The sun blazed down as they hiked and climbed through the rough terrain. As the search for improvised explosive devices continued they were forced into a defensive stance, firing at enemy targets.
The 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit participated in predeployment training Sept. 17 through 20 at the Barry M. Goldwater Range in Southwest Arizona.
“This training is vital to the safety of our team and the success of our deployed missions,” said Capt. Justin Schultz, 56th CES EOD commander. “Our ability to detect IEDs is critical to the safety of countless deployed service members all over the globe.”
The unit trained on TNT, Semtex, C-4 and other explosives, and then split into three teams. The teams went into predeployment exercises designed to mimic dismounted operations in Afghanistan. The scenarios included disarming and disposal of IEDs.
Each scenario presented its own challenges such as simulated enemy combatants, steep terrain and inaccessible IEDs that were handled manually instead of by an explosives robot.
“It’s important for our team to get training in all these scenarios because they are all real possibilities when downrange,” said Senior Airman Timothy Donnan, 56th CES EOD team member who planned and organized the training. “We want our Airmen to be the best prepared professionals so they can do their part to save lives and ensure a successful mission.”
Throughout the training, EOD members slept in tents and cots and ate MREs for all meals. The munitions that were set were connected to 50-caliber bullets that would be set off if the ordnance was triggered.
“We made it as realistic as possible,” Schultz said. “The idea is for them to learn to be successful here, so they make it home from their real-life deployments.”