AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates --
The 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal section hosted an EOD skills challenge September 5-9, 2022, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. Three teams of two were presented with various challenges to test their abilities as EOD technicians.
The challenge was separated into 6 segments, with the intent of testing a range of skills EOD technicians need to master.
“As EOD techs, we love competition. We love knowing who is the best,” said Staff Sgt. Bryant Gaylord, an EOD technician assigned to the 380th ECES and a proctor for the challenge. “But ultimately, we wanted to get technicians from all across the area of responsibility together in order to share information and practices as well as learn how to work with each other. That really came into play when seeing how Army EOD solved problems. The challenge allowed us to get out of the norm and see from another perspective.”
The first challenge was a full operations exercise for unexploded ordinance and IEDs. This tested how technicians responded, identified and disposed of UXOs and IEDs. Challenge two was a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected All Terrain Vehicle familiarization and driving course that included the assembly and operation of the vehicle's Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station.
Techs were then asked to utilize x-ray imaging devices in tandem with a grid system in order to identify key components of explosive circuits and identify which components could be safely removed from a distance using a Percussion Actuated Neutralizer tool. Other tasks included a timed bomb suit labyrinth; a hook and line portion which tested technicians' abilities to manipulate objects from afar using only rope; a robot scouting obstacle course; and culminated in a “Kill House” event.
“For us the kill house is a fun way to compound high levels of stress on an EOD team and test just how effectively they can work together,” said Gaylord. First of all, they work in blackout conditions, they know they are being timed, they have hostages making noise and every step risks setting off a simulated device.”
With total scores tallied, a team from the U.S. Army claimed victory over the 380th ECES teams by a one-point margin.