By Andrea Sutherland (Fort Carson)May 23, 2013
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- The TALON robot zoomed across the dried earth toward the C4 charge and secondary improvised explosive device. From the Humvee parked hundreds of feet away, Spc. Matthew Beatty maneuvered the robot's arm, delicately plucking the charge from the ground via a thin wire.
"That's one good thing about the 'X-Box generation,' they're good with the robots," said Dave Cooley, evaluator and contractor with Joint Asymmetric Threat Awareness and Counter IED training program.
The team of explosive ordnance disposal technicians from 663rd Ordnance Company, 242nd EOD Battalion, 71st Ordnance Group (EOD), had already disposed of one IED. As they swept the area with the robot, they came across a secondary device.
Beatty guided the robot back to the Humvee as Sgt. Matthew Bagley and Sgt. Bryan Fox prepped a water bottle charge to eliminate the second threat.
"What's the plan, Bryan?" Cooley asked.
"We got another water bottle. We're going to go back because of that second pressure plate you put out there," Fox said.
"I didn't put it out there," Cooley said. "The 'Taliban' did."
From May 13-17, EOD technicians completed complex scenarios near Camp Red Devil as part of a training exercise to prepare for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. Cooley and other contractors prepared the exercises based on real situations servicemembers experience in theater.
"We're duplicating tactics seen in Afghanistan," said Cooley, who recently returned from Afghanistan after a six-month tour. "As (enemy forces) learn how we do things, they change their tactics."
As a result, Cooley said, EOD units also need to change and adapt.
"I come here and pass along that information to these guys," he said.
Throughout the week, as teams rotated through various scenarios, team leaders briefed each other on the location and number of IEDs found as well as other pertinent information discovered while patrolling.
"I'm feeling confident," Fox said. "This training helps us build confidence and gets us ready for Afghanistan."