SOUTHWEST ASIA — Explosive ordnance disposal technicians deployed to Afghanistan perform counter-improvised explosive device operations in harsh conditions daily.
Equipment and supplies are an essential element to this mission and without the modular supply depot here at the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron’s EOD flight, safe, secure and reliable operations would suffer.
“The big difference between here and stateside is that we do a lot of logistics moving supplies and equipment in and out of theater,” said Senior Master Sgt. Loren Green, the 379th ECES EOD flight superintendent. “Units in Afghanistan will coordinate what they need with U.S. Air Forces Central Command and if we have what they’re requesting, we’ll get it to them as soon as possible.”
Green said if they can’t support it, the request is forwarded to other AFCENT wings and eventually stateside.
Instead of the traditional combat role they fulfill in Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Joel Calahan, a 379th ECES EOD craftsman, added they’re also an essential element in the force protection mission here.
“It never gets old,” said Calahan. “We volunteered for this job – you can’t be assigned to EOD, not to mention the technical school is very hard and has a high dropout rate, so you really have to be committed.”
But after completing the 162 days of technical training, Green and Calahan said they get to play with a lot of the best equipment in the Air Force.
“We definitely have some of the coolest toys,” Green said. “That’s why I got into it in the first place.”
Joining the Air Force in 1996, fresh out of high school, Green, deployed here from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, said he couldn’t see himself doing anything else.
“When I first came in, we didn’t do nearly as much,” Green said. “Back then, we were pretty much an insurance policy and we all felt very under-utilized.”
Much has changed in the last 17 years, including the expeditionary nature of the U.S. military following the start of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
“Now we’re an essential part of the mission,” he said. “Especially in the deployed environment.”
As an EOD technician, Green and fellow technicians handle live explosives daily. Their job is to detect, identify, render safe, recover and dispose of unsafe explosives and ordnance, including conventional military ordnance; criminal and terrorist homemade items; and chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.
“I love blowing stuff up,” said Green, the Tampa Bay, Fla., native. “They pay me extra money to do it, too. You can’t beat that anywhere.”
EOD techs also have opportunities to work on the flightline during aircraft emergencies, on bombing ranges during range clearances, in munitions storage areas, in accident areas and in any other area or climate where an explosive hazard exists. They also analyze unknown munitions and explosives for exploitation and use by the intelligence agencies, and, in some cases, may provide protection to the president, vice president and other dignitaries in support of the United States Secret Service.
“We’re all confident in our job and love what we do,” said Calahan. “I can’t see doing anything else in the Air Force.”