News: EOD technicians share knowledge at Balikatan
Story by Pfc. Kasey Peacock
CLARK FIELD, Philippines – Explosive ordnance technicians with the Philippine Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps shared knowledge through training at Clark Field, Philippines April 10.
During the training, Marine EOD technicians shared the capabilities of the HAL hook and line system, used for basic rigging and transporting, with Filipino technicians through video presentations and practical application.
The training conducted was part of exercise Balikatan 2013, an annual bilateral exercise, in its 29th iteration, aimed at ensuring interoperability of the Philippine and U.S. militaries during planning, contingency and humanitarian assistance operations.
“As EOD technicians, we have to deal with a lot of dangerous situations,” said PAF Staff Sgt. Gerald T. Alamay, an EOD technician with the 772nd Explosive Ordinance Disposal Squadron, 710th Special Operations Wing. “When you are working with other EOD technicians, there is always a bond because of the danger you could potentially face. I have had many experiences training with the Marines during prior exercises and every opportunity is a great one for the squadron.”
The HAL kit is comprised of different ropes, pulleys, levers and fulcrums that can be used to safely open doors and remove hazardous items.
After brief demonstrations from the Marines, the Filipino technicians quickly took to utilizing the HAL equipment by using it to open the door of a Humvee and extract simulated hazardous objects from it.
While the training was primarily to familiarize the Filipino technicians on the equipment, it was also a great opportunity for the Marines to refresh their skills, according to U.S. Marine Sgt. Timothy J. Firestone, an EOD technician with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“Throughout the week we have demonstrated many of our different capabilities to the Filipino technicians, which is great for both militaries,” said Firestone. “While our training is taken very seriously, we have had a lot of fun getting to know the Filipino technicians through our time spent with them.”
Despite not working with the equipment very often, the Filipino technicians quickly caught on and received lasting knowledge and training that could be used in the future, according to U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Jose Acevedo, an EOD technician with MWSS 172, 1st MAW.
“I was impressed while watching them work with the equipment,” said Acevedo. “What they lacked in their equipment, they made up for in experience as most of them have been in the EOD field for many years.”
Several different units with the 710th Special Operations Wing are conducting training with various Marine units across the Philippines during the exercise. These training operations consist of humanitarian civic assistance, ground military training operations and a natural disaster response command post exercise.
The Balikatan series of events focuses on training both Philippine and U.S. armed forces to provide relief and assistance in the event of natural disasters and other crises that endanger public health and safety. Additionally, military service members from both countries will conduct combined staff exercises to improve interoperability and contingency planning.
The exercise is scheduled to conclude April 17.