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Luke EOD Airmen endure Operation Enduring Training

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota
  • 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Braving the elements and other tough situations can either make or break a warrior.

Explosive ordnance disposal Airmen from Luke Air Force Base and Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, worked together at the Barry M. Goldwater Range, for war-zone scenario training Oct. 7 through 10.

The exercise began with a UH-60 helicopter dropping off the newest EOD Airmen to the Gila Bend training range.

"The primary mission of Operation Enduring Training is to provide insight into a deployed setting for our newest Airmen," said Staff Sgt. Michael Garrison, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD training coordinator. "Many of these Airmen haven't been to a war zone, so we created an environment where they were able to participate and learn."

The first day out at the range started off with a bang - literally.

With the teams working together, a main line of detonation cord branching off to 25 unique demolition shots was formed within 90 minutes. The ordnance used for this phase was semtex explosives, C-4 and basic sticks of dynamite set up for a wide range of explosive effects for learning purposes.

That afternoon the six teams spent three hours doing transition drills and learning combat training techniques. Eight targets were set up on a mountainside at distances of 50 to 400 meters to gain real-world experience on the ballistic drop of the rounds fired.

Later in the night as the teams were resting for the next day of operations, a round of simulated ground bursts were thrown around the camp to disturb their sleep and simulate the type of stress they would receive in a war zone.

After a restless night, the teams woke to pouring rain and began their operations without hesitation. Their operations consisted of four scenarios including a homemade explosives laboratory, a combat life-saving problem, a vehicle-born improvised explosive device problem and a passive infrared initiated directional fragmentation charge scenario.

"During these ops we focused on mounted operations," Garrison said. "Basically, the teams had to work from their vehicle, giving them more gear and options."

After the scenarios were completed the teams returned to camp to settle in and began resting for the next fully loaded day of operations. But the silence and relaxation lasted only for a few moments before the next round of simulated ground bursts were thrown into camp.

Once all the teams were awake, a few of the Airmen about to become team leaders were taken out for a night-time operations drill using night vision goggles.

"We hiked up a mountain toward the location where the simulated fire was coming from and found mounted rockets with suspicious characters around them," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Kim, 56th CES EOD technician. "The point of the exercise was to enhance team leader skills while gaining experience in clearing a suspected point of origin from an enemy attack."

During the last operations day the weather cleared up, giving the teams a morale boost. The teams hiked out and began their dismounted operations. At each location the teams were given scenarios and items to use to assess each training mission. This time, each team had to work with what they could carry on their backs while dealing with a direction-focused fragmentation charged ordnance cache in a cave on a mountain top, command wire improvised explosive device and a booby trapped IED.

After all the scenarios were completed, the six teams joined together and discussed the events of each day, sharing knowledge and techniques.

"Operation Enduring Training was extremely successful," said Staff Sgt. Stephen Alvarez, 56th CES EOD team leader. "Word on the street is that we provide the best and realistic training that our guys have gotten, and that goes from the most experienced Airmen all the way down to the least experienced. This type of training wouldn't have been possible without the Barry M. Goldwater Range. Their support made our training what it is today."