News: EOD soldiers sharpen skills
Story by Sgt. Christopher Prows
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Soldiers from the 787th Ordnance Company, 3rd Ordnance Battalion (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) conducted tactical site exploitation training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Feb. 5.
According to Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Cox, 3rd platoon sergeant, 787th EOD, the training event is a requirement for all EOD units in order to be prepared for any situation that may occur.
Tactical site exploitation is the process of gathering information about the type of explosive used in a given blast. It also encompasses the forensic side of collecting soil samples and gathering fingerprints when conducting analysis of a blast site. The forensic evidence is used to help capture and convict people who create or emplace improvised explosive devices.
“The junior soldiers will benefit greatly,” said Cox, a native of Salinas, Calif. “This is new training for them; the stuff they do not learn at Advanced Individual Training.”
In order for soldiers to get realistic training, senior noncommissioned officers and civilian contractors prepared the range by emplacing explosives and detonating them to demonstrate the effect of different types of blasts on the environment.
“You have to use real explosives to get the full training environment,” said Cpl. Stephen Hair, senior team member, 787th EOD. “I have done courses where someone just kicked their foot around and said ‘40 lbs. of explosives went off.’ You are not going to get good training out of that.”
According to Hair, a native of Show Low, Ariz., explosives can affect the environment differently depending if the charge is placed on the ground or a few feet below the surface. A little explosive can make a big hole that can scatter debris across the area.
Using real-life scenarios allowed soldiers to work in their individual teams to develop standards for conducting post-blast analysis.
“For the last few months they have not had a lot of time to practice with the team leads running the mission and them running as support personnel,” said 1st Lt. Jacob Thomas Dutton, 2nd platoon leader, 787th EOD, and native of Deer Park, Wash. “It will help the younger soldiers practice tactics, techniques and procedures with their team leader.”
EOD technicians used explosives ranging from typical plastic explosives to complex firing systems to test the skills of the soldiers.