U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jessica Lafo flips Staff Sgt. Anthony Walling, both 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians, during combatives training at the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing May 6, 2012. Members of the EOD flight use combatives training, CrossFit and water survival training as part of their routine to stay in top physical condition. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Sara Csurilla)
SOUTHWEST ASIA - U.S. Air Force Staff Sgts. James A. Bennett and Anthony Walling, both combative trainers and explosive ordnance disposal technicians with the 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, instruct fellow techs on different rolling maneuvers during combatives training in Southwest Asia May 6, 2012. Members of the EOD flight use combatives as part of their training routine to stay in top physical shape. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Sara Csurilla)
SOUTHWEST ASIA - U.S. Air Force Senior Airman John Barrett, 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician, trains with a robot to check suspicious packages in Southwest Asia May 6, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Sara Csurilla)
SOUTHWEST ASIA - A U.S. Air Force explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron swims to the bottom of the pool to pick up a 15-pound weight during water training in Southwest Asia May 3, 2012. Members of the EOD flight swim as part of their training routine to stay in top physical condition. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Sara Csurilla)
SOUTHWEST ASIA - U.S. Air Force Capt. John Fuson, 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer in charge, removes his uniform top during water training in Southwest Asia May 3, 2012. Fuson and members of the EOD flight swim as part of their training routine to stay in top physical condition. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Sara Csurilla)
by Staff Sgt. Sara Csurilla
U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs
5/7/2012 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- The swimming pool is the last place most people would think to find the explosive ordnance disposal technicians training while deployed.
However, every Thursday morning, the 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron EOD flight spends their morning physical training sessions becoming more comfortable and capable in the water, while in their uniforms.
"We do the pool training because the only Air Force EOD officer to have died in the current conflicts was Capt. Kermit Evans, who passed away when he was forced to bail out from a helicopter over a lake in Iraq," said Capt. John Fuson, 380th ECES EOD officer in charge. "This just proves that we must be ready for any situation at any time while deployed. In addition to the survival point of the training, pool PT provides an added avenue for fitness and calorie burning."
Water training is just one of the many ways the 380th EOD flight uses PT as a way to keep their Airmen in top physical condition and prepared for one of the many exhausting and dangerous situations an EOD tech could find themselves in.
The team has a PT schedule that keeps them busy every day except Sunday.
They use CrossFit training for their general physical preparedness on a day-to-day basis, with various training activities scattered throughout the week to keep their sessions interesting.
"We use CrossFit because we think it works the best as far as actual functional and practical preparedness," said Master Sgt. Scott Williams, 380th ECES EOD Operations NCOIC and Level I CrossFit instructor. "The philosophy behind CrossFit helps with our training because it is always working a different part of the body."
Along with the special water training, they do combative training and ruck marches, where they carry a rucksack weighing about 50 pounds and walk about five miles in full uniform and battle rattle through challenging terrain.
"Dismounted operations is becoming more and more common for EOD technicians in forward deployed locations," said Williams. "When we do dismounted ops in Afghanistan we'll have on our body armor, a full combat load, weapon, and we are usually carrying packs that can weigh anywhere from 40 to 80 pounds on our backs. With the pace of combat operations that we are performing in Afghanistan, it's incredibly important for us to maintain a higher level of fitness.
"When EOD techs aren't physically fit, that's when we start making mistakes," Williams continued. "And we can't make mistakes with our job, that's when people get hurt or killed."
With the responsibility of keeping troops safe in an ever-changing environment of threats, EOD is one career field that feels the brunt of deployments, so staying mentally and physically sharp is more important than ever.
"We do this training because we have to be able to pull our weight, carry our gear and, if necessary, carry a teammate to safety in any situation we may encounter, whether that be rucks on dismounted patrols, water survival, or surviving a blast from an (improvised explosive device)," Fuson said. "Mental and physical recovery is significantly more effective when one is physically fit."