News: Arizona Guard explosives experts train in Hawaii
Story by Spc. Wesley Parrell
MAUNA LOA, Hawaii – The Arizona Army National Guard’s 363rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company conducted its annual training at the Pohakuloa Training Area, here July 25 to Aug. 8.
Located 6,200 feet above sea level, in the upland saddle region between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, the PTA is the largest Department of Defense installation in Hawaii.
PTA offers realistic training in a setting not found anywhere else. Its 80-acre base camp, higher-altitude airfield with a 3,700-foot runway, and firing ranges provide the infrastructure to conduct small-arms and crew operated weapons familiarization training and qualifications, and artillery and mortar live fire.
“Part of our training mission was to conduct high tempo, deployment like scenarios,” said Army Sgt. Laura Crabtree. “The ranges at PTA allowed for us to use a variety of our explosive ordnance disposal techniques during live demo operations on a scale that we had not done anywhere else.”
In addition to fine tuning technical skills, the 363rd participated in a unit evaluation by the 706th EOD Company stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Active duty Soldiers tested the Arizona unit’s ability to respond to real world scenarios and provided insight into mission capabilities from the command level down to the EOD team level.
“Working with our active duty counterparts opens new avenues of training and knowledge that will further our abilities to do our jobs,” said Army 1st Sgt. Jason Dannettel. “We can combine our real life experiences with their real life experiences to improve the skill sets for both units”.
The 363rd later repaid the favor and conduct an external evaluation on the 706th.
“The fact that the 363rd was able to perform at a level commensurate with the active component speaks to the value of the National Guard EOD Soldier,” said Army Capt. Rori Comiskey, 363rd EOD Company commander. “These Soldiers only see 48 training periods and one 15 day annual training per year, yet they consistently perform on par with their active counterparts.”
Working with the 706th helped develop a beneficial active-Guard EOD relationship, and ensure compatibility for future missions, Comiskey said.