News: 242nd EOD hosts Team Leader Training Academy
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
FORT CARSON, Colo. – Explosive ordnance disposal specialists from Army posts across the U.S. honed their tactical abilities and doctrinal knowledge at Fort Carson, April 11-18, during the EOD Team Leader Training Academy.
EOD non-commissioned officers participated in multiple scenarios throughout the week to develop the skills needed to become certified EOD team leaders.
“We are not trying to certify these soldiers ourselves, but we are giving them an opportunity in an intensively resourced environment to run realistic, challenging training problems that will make them stronger when they do go through the qualifications,” said the training event’s host, Lt. Col. Gerardo Meneses, commander, 242nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion, 71st Ordnance Group (EOD).
“(NCOs) must complete 12 tasks before their company commanders and first sergeants will recommend them to become certified as team leaders,” Meneses explained. “We are providing a venue where they can take part in 10 of those 12 tasks.”
During both of the TLTA’s four-day training cycles, the prospective team leaders responded to unexploded ordnance in a simulated combat environment; defeated simulated vehicle-bourn, roadside and suicide vest IEDs; cleared minefields; and calmed nervous hostages.
Many of the EOD soldiers need the training to refresh perishable skills and learn more efficient tactics before attempting qualifications, said Sgt. Christopher Young, EOD specialist, Company B, 110th Chemical Battalion, out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
“I’ve been to two previous TLTAs, and this is hands down the best,” said Young. “My unit is specifically geared toward chemical incidents. This training is great for us, because it focuses on more conventional EOD procedures.”
The future team leaders took the primary role in investigating and diffusing each incident, and directed a two-man support team as they would in a tactical situation.
“This is my first time running as a leader candidate,” Young said. “It is a great learning experience to get to the scene, figure out what needs to be done, relay your plans to your team, and then execute.”
The EOD soldiers can learn as much from watching each other as participating in the training themselves, said Spc. Josh Estes, 62nd Ordnance Company, 242nd EOD.
“The best thing about the academy for me is that we bring together such a vast knowledge base to work from,” said Estes, who served as one of Young’s team members. “There are a lot of team leaders out here with numerous deployments and a lot of experience. From them you can learn what works best for you.”
The TLTA is vital to the EOD career field because bringing soldiers from across the EOD community together motivates them to be the best, said Sgt. 1st Class Juan Frausto, trainer/mentor and EOD Team leader, 71st Ordnance Company, 79th Ordnance Battalion (EOD), 71st EOD, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas.
“These are perishable skills, and we must maintain them,” Frausto said. “We need to be trained and methodical, because, in our career field, one mistake could be deadly.”
After completing the TLTA, the EOD specialists must complete the team leader qualifiers at their home station. During the test, unit leaders will gauge the NCOs’ ability to manage critical situations in the field.