CAMP DAVIS, NC, UNITED STATES
The call came in.
The exact cause of the explosion was unknown to the two Marines as they cautiously surveyed the scene – debris in the road, a damaged robot, and numerous hiding places for a second improvised explosive device.
The technicians with 2nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 2nd Marine Logistics Group vigilantly continued to sweep the area with metal detectors as they pieced together the scenario during their predeployment training at Camp Davis, N.C., Feb. 12.
There was no telling what other surprises awaited the team as they completed the last of a series of training exercises designed to prepare them to support ground operations in Afghanistan.
“The same cat-and-mouse game you play with a bomber, you play with each other,” said Staff Sgt. Samuel A. Beltram, a team leader preparing to deploy with the unit. “You learn the bomb makers’ [tactics, techniques and procedures], and you exploit those. You also know they’re watching you, so you just change it up every time.”
It will be the first deployment with 2nd EOD Co. for several of the technicians, who spent the week practicing to support infantry patrols and convoys, calling for simulated medical evacuations, and operating specially designed robots.
Two Marines worked their way closer to the road in response to the simulated IED, which left debris blocking roadway traffic. They swept their metal detectors over the broken ground and stopped occasionally to photograph the scene for future evaluations.
“With the exception of live explosives, it’s pretty much as real as it’s going to get,” said Sgt. Chaz D. West, a Winfield, Kan., native and EOD technician training for his first deployment to Afghanistan. “It’s just getting us better prepared. There are a lot of things we see here that we’re going to see over there … it’s about making sure nobody gets hurt.”
Moving forward, one of the technicians knelt down in a ditch on the side of the road. He slid his knife into the ground, checking for possible explosives. The path was clear.
He slowly crept nearer and nearer as he opened a path to the site of the simulated blast.
“It’s an exciting feeling,” said Beltram, a native of Fort Worth, Texas. “The way I think about it is the safest route now is going to be the most dangerous route later. If we take the safe route to an area now, they’ve watched us do that. That safe route is going to be dangerous [next time].”
It meant constantly shifting tactics for the Marines as they reacted numerous scenarios, each built around real-life experiences from Afghanistan.
“We run a lot of calls around here, and a lot of it is team building,” said Sgt. Collin J. Turner, a Detroit native and EOD technician with the company. “You’re thinking and working on what you can do next, and what you’re going to do three steps from there. If you get caught up in the thought, ‘Hey, I’m on top of an IED,’ it’s going to make it a lot harder for you to work.”
The team of Marines planted a simulated charge and silently pulled back. Their week long training at Camp Davis was all but over, but the lessons learned would prove to be life saving during their next deployment.
“I joined EOD to help out the [Marines and sailors] we support,” said Turner. “I’m excited to do my job. At the same time, it’s not a job I would do if we didn’t need it.”
His next call will likely be in Afghanistan.
||CAMP DAVIS, NC, US
This work, 2nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Co. prepares for deployment, by Sgt Paul Peterson, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.