EOD fights fire with fire to ensure safety on NTTR
by Airman 1st Class Bryan Guthrie •
Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians assigned to the 99th Civil Engineering Squadron travel to the Nevada Test and Training Range regularly to dispose of ordnance used for training purposes.
EOD ensures that the NTTR’s 12,000-square-nautical miles are cleared of any dangerous explosives, to ensure the safety of Airmen and contractors working on the range.
“EOD technicians’ range clearance mission is critical to the operational readiness of the ranges and enabling the construction and maintenance of targets,” said Maj. Kale McGinnis, 99th CES EOD flight commander. “Additionally the clearance mission enables the environmental compliance requirements which ensures the safe and legal use of the ranges for years to come.”
With a multitude of exercises and units using the NTTR for training, EOD executes more than 40 range clearance missions every year, disposing of more than 10,000 unexploded ordnance annually.
Controlled explosives are strategically placed among UXO to guarantee ordnance is disposed of safely.
EOD technicians must be proficient in the identification of and hazards associated with each and every weapon system employed on the ranges to include those used by joint and foreign partners.
“Safety is paramount, due to the extremely hazardous condition of ordnance encountered on the range,” said McGinnis. “Damage due to impact, corrosion from wind and sun, as well as partially or fully subsurface items add to the complexity and danger of this operation.”
EOD technicians are trained to detect, disarm, detonate and dispose of explosive threats in a safe and secure matter.
“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.”
Range clearance operations require extensive mission planning, technical expertise and coordination with multiple agencies. To minimize the risk and hazards, EOD has a continuous and extremely rigorous training program to ensure all members are certified and competent on all weapons systems.
EOD technicians assist personnel working on the range so they can support the advanced training provided at Nellis Air Force Base and NTTR. At the end of the day, EOD helps make sure there are aircraft in the sky and bombs on targets.