EOD Trains Its Future Leaders
FORT STEWART, Ga. — The Marne Post hosted its first-ever Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team Leader Training Academy, Feb. 11 — 27, as team leader candidates from across the Army converged here to be assessed by EOD trainer-mentors for the possibility of earning EOD Team Leader certification. As part of the EOD’s Team Leader Certification Program, the academy aims to not only assess the candidate’s technical and tactical skills, but his requisite judgment and level of maturity and responsibility, which is essential, especially under enormously stressful situations in a lethal environment. “When the technician is down on the line, he’s not only responsible for the device, but also for the safety of his team and those in the vicinity,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Larry Cushing, the academy’s lead trainer-mentor and 63d Ordnance Battalion command sergeant major out of Fort Drum, N.Y. “I want them to learn here… not in a lonely valley in Afghanistan.”
Each team leader candidate, typically a staff sergeant or sergeant, led a team of two other junior EOD techs, one who was chosen from his home unit by the team leader candidate and the other chosen randomly by academy leadership. “This process teaches the Soldier to work well with team members who are not organic to their home unit,” Cushing said. Each of the 12 three-Soldier teams were closely observed and tutored by a seasoned trainer-mentor through 16 individual lanes, or scenarios — each depicting challenges EOD teams will certainly face. Rendering safe a suspected Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device, performing a Post-Blast Analysis, and the proper disarmament and disposal of Unexploded Ordnance, were just some of the challenges. “These scenarios really provide the unit with a snapshot to a Soldier’s potential to certify,” Cushing said. “The evaluations are very subjective, so I really get 16 different appraisals — to include where the Soldier is now, and the mentor’s recommendations.”
All of the scenarios were based on real incidents that had occurred in Iraq, along with challenges found in Afghanistan; however, the ever-changing situation in Afghanistan also plays a role in the training’s curriculum. “Afghanistan has really changed our thought process in reference to dismounted operations,” Cushing said. As EOD leaders continue to receive feedback from downrange units, the data and lessons learned are quickly applied to the training scenarios. “Our downrange [technicians] are actually rewriting doctrine.” To reduce the possibility of collateral damage in urban settings, or especially near religious structures, EOD Team Leader candidates are assessed in the proper use of a device that uses water, plastic, and a small amount of explosive to render a VBIED safe. Lane one at the academy assessed a candidate’s skill in properly rendering safe a VBIED.
“Initially we did a recon with the robot to check inside the trunk,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Fox, an EOD team leader candidate with the 756th Ordnance Company (EOD) at Fort Stewart. He and his other two team members then used the PAC BOT to remotely place a special explosive device inside the trunk of the vehicle where the IED was thought to be.
For more on this story visit army.mil