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IED exercise helps keep 332nd AEW combat ready

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Krystal Wright
  • 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Several units within 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing teamed up with coalition mission partners for an exercise where they discovered an inert vehicle-borne improvised explosive device May 28, 2018, at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.


The purpose of the exercise was to both practice and test the base’s search procedures and ability to identify and handle IEDs.


The units that participated included the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Explosives Ordnance Disposal unit, 332nd ECES Fire Department, and 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron along with other various base agencies.


It was composed of a quite a few of agencies that do not normally get to work together. The exercise provided an opportunity to do so, helping them “work together as a cohesive unit,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Fox, 332nd ECES EOD technician and team lead.


The exercises are an opportunity for, not just different units, but for people within units to come together.


Most Airmen do not deploy as a whole squadron unit, Dauterman said, but as individuals or small teams that come together downrange. Exercises allow them to smooth out how they work together as a unit and respond to various situations.


The exercise involved security forces first identifying a possible danger in the form of a car carrying a hidden inert IED. The base then responded to the potential threat, which included sending out other resources like military working dogs, EOD and the fire department.


“We’re basically breaking down our search procedures from start to finish,” said Master Sgt. Jared Dauterman, 332nd ESFS NCO in charge of operations. “We take in a vehicle into the search area, do our initial screen electronically for any explosive device or contraband they may have (and then) our canine units will go ahead and search around the vehicle as well. Finally, our actual hands-on security forces searchers will complete the last search.”


“Once they (security forces) find the item of suspicion in the vehicle, we come out and process the scene,” continued Fox, who is deployed from Beale Air Force Base, California.


“Basically, we go in and verify that it is an IED and then from there we figure out how it functions and how to render it safe so the mission can continue,” he elaborated.


The fire department stood on standby in case something happened with the IED. Coalition mission partners also provided assistance to include creating and maintaining a safe perimeter.   


Conducting these exercises and practicing the various procedures is important for maintaining combat readiness.


“It’s one of those skills that can go away if you don’t stay sharp on it and stay up to date with the current threats,” Fox said. “IEDs are dangerous and if you don’t keep your skills up … then it makes it more dangerous for you and your team whenever you are (handling) an actual IED.”


The need to continuously practice and hone skills does not just pertain to IEDs.


“If we didn’t practice … it is going to cause hesitation, and hesitation gets people killed in our line of work, plain and simple,” Dauterman explained. “It gets your partner hurt, it gets you hurt. We have to practice to make it a smooth process; no hesitation, they know exactly what they are doing, there is confidence in what they are doing.”


Despite the challenges, the units were able to work together well and the exercise was successful.


“This is the first joint exercise with fire department and EOD,” Dauterman said. “It went way smoother than I expected. The transition of scene control from security forces to (the fire department) went really well.”


“The exercise in of itself went very well,” Dauterman continued. “We identified very minor things we have to adjust or work on harder, but all in all it went really well.”