EOD Airmen train at Fort Irwin’s National Training Center

28 November 2023

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Photo by: Chloe Bonaccorsi

In a unique inter-service collaboration, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight from the 812th Civil Engineer Squadron recently teamed up with the Army’s C Company, 2916th Aviation Battalion, “Desert Dustoff,” for an intensive series of training exercises at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.

The objective was to put the EOD team through physically and mentally demanding scenarios, including one they call "team leader down," where team members had to apply Tactical Combat Casualty Care to an injured leader.

What set this exercise apart were the real-world elements integrated into the training.

"We've done nine-line exercises, but this is the first one where our guys got to call the nine-line to a helicopter at Fort Irwin," said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Griffin, 812th CES - EOD training manager.

The team had the opportunity to communicate directly and interact with helicopter pilots during landing — all without any simulation.

Griffin said the cooperation of Fort Irwin’s medical team was crucial to the training.

"The Army was great. They used a lot of creativity to make this happen for us," Griffin noted. He praised the flexibility and ingenuity of the Army personnel who were willing to adapt their routines to accommodate the EOD team's needs.

But the training was not without its setbacks. The EOD team had to deal with real-world problems like a Humvee breaking down in the middle of a drill.

"That's the whole goal—to stress them out," Griffin emphasized. He expressed optimism about his team’s performance: "It didn't go perfectly, but it went better than I thought it would."

Sgt. Branden Breidenbach, C Co., 2916th Avn. Bn. flight medic, echoed the sentiment of the value of such cross-branch training: "It's always a learning curve when bringing together different branches, but we’re all on the same team."

As the exercises concluded, Griffin was appreciative of how his team performed in the austere NTC environment.

"I wanted to extend my gratitude to my leadership team and my airmen. They’ve been suffering, but they’ve kept their chin up," he said.

The training event underscored the adaptability and ingenuity inherent in U.S. military operations, providing invaluable lessons for future inter-service collaborations.


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