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Peterson EOD Airmen hone warfighting capabilities

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EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Explosive ordnance disposal Airmen begin to move a team member during the Warfighter Challenge May 3 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The Eglin-based exercise provides Airmen the chance to experience EOD problem-solving scenarios and network with others in the career field to help improve the mission. The Challenge was created by Eglin’s EOD flight Airmen last year as a week-long training exercise. The interest and success of the event forced the coordinators to add another week of training to meet the demand. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- More than 90 Airmen across 20 Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal units put their skills to the test during the Warfighter Challenge, April 23-May 4, 2018 at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

Of these Airmen were three EOD technicians from Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. During the Warfighter Challenge, these Airmen were faced with situation-based exercises in unique environments with new setups, gear and conditions they may have never encountered at their home stations.

“The training area was a large wooded space on Eglin AFB with numerous mock villages, dirt roads and volunteer role-players,” said Senior Airman Brad Linville, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron EOD journeyman. “When these types of deployed scenarios are performed at our home station, we have to pretend certain buildings are or are not there, or that we are in a certain environment that dictates allowable procedures.”

One goal of the Warfighter Challenge was to allow upgrading Airmen the opportunity to take on lead positions within each three-man team.

“The most challenging part of the week was stepping out of my team member comfort zone to practice team leading operations,” said Linville. “Some scenarios included clearing booby-trapped weapons caches, performing combat lifesaving procedures to blast victims while in the midst of defusing other Improvised Explosive Devices, rendering devices safe while preserving evidence and utilizing mine detectors to locate pressure plates.”

The teams encountered at least three scenarios per day, challenging them both physically and mentally.

However, Linville said, having EOD technicians from all over the world sharing knowledge and experiences boosted his confidence in approaching real-world situations.

“There is never one right way to approach a dangerous device, but some ways are better than others,” said Linville. “I made some mistakes in training that I will not make again —-- real world or not. I learned better ways to go about doing things. Deployed skills are perishable and The Warrior Challenge was a great way to keep my knives sharp. I will go every year I can to absorb skills from experienced EOD techs and so I can make mistakes in training to prevent making them in a real world situation.”

The Warfighter Challenge began in 2017 as a week-long course designed to hone the Airmen’s EOD and problem-solving skills.

For these Airmen, the Warrior Challenge was more than just a series of exercises: it was preparation for real world scenarios — ones that could often result in life or death.

“This is larger for us than just these exercises. There’s so much more being accomplished,” said Capt. Cory McCart, Eglin AFB EOD flight commander. “We are helping to improve the Airmen who attend and by extension their units, the career field and our mission as a whole.”

 

*An Air Force news story contributed to this story 

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