News: Annual training keeps the Arizona National Guard sharp
Story by Spc. Chris Moore
FLORENCE MILITARY RESERVATION, Ariz. – The explosive ordnance disposal team of the Arizona Army National Guard’s 363rd Ordnance Company based out of Coolidge, Ariz., is conducting basic demolition, ordnance and unexploded ordnance disposal training during their annual training at the Florence Military Range, Feb. 21- March 7.
All Guard units are required to do annual training, but it is especially important for EOD units to have an annual training to practice skill sets and train for the changing threats on the battlefield.
“Basic demolition is the building block on which the majority of EOD skills come from and is a skill that needs to be practiced as often as possible,” said 1st Lt. Stephen Levine, executive officer, 363rd EOD. “Once we clear an item, we then need to destroy it. This is why we are here today - to hone those skills.”
Consistent training is essential to maintain certification and sharpen the necessary skills for real world scenarios. To be effective on the job, EOD technicians must understand and neutralize ordnance to prevent injuries.
“EOD is like a chess game in which we have to figure out what a bomber has done and how to make it safe again so that combat operations can continue,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Hipp, platoon sergeant, 363rd EOD. “Annual training helps keep us proficient in all the tasks we do.”
The 363rd’s AT mission this year is to help clear out old ordnance from the range. Clearing the unexploded artillery ordnance is helping to maintain the range as well as train newer soldiers that have not had the chance to test those skills.
“These are perishable skills for our soldiers,” said Hipp. “Cleaning the range of unexploded ordnance helps keep us proficient in all the tasks we do, as well as make the range safer for other soldiers.”
These are the same procedures that EOD soldiers overseas are doing Levine said.
Regular training builds on their skills, tests them out and ensures they are properly trained.
“These soldiers never cease to amaze me,” said Levine. “When there is a job to be done they come together and get it done.”