By Walter T. Ham IV, 20th CBRNE Command Public AffairsSeptember 17, 2014
OAKLAND, Calif. (Sept. 17, 2014) -- U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal Soldiers won first place in Urban Shield, a Bay Area bomb squad competition in California.
Soldiers from the Fort Irwin, California-based 759th Explosive Ordnance Disposal, or EOD, Company, competed against eight other civilian and military bomb squads during the four-day event.
The 759th EOD Company is part of the 3rd EOD Battalion, 71st EOD Group, 20th CBRNE Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives), the U.S. Army's only command that combats chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats across the nation and around the globe.
Urban Shield included California-based law enforcement bomb squads from San Francisco, Sacramento, Monterey County, Riverside County and the University of Berkeley.
The 372nd Marine Wing Support EOD team from Camp Pendleton, California; St. Paul, Minnesota Regional Fire Department Bomb Squad; and Policia Civil Bomb Squad from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, also competed.
The EOD scenarios were evaluated by Special Agent Bomb Technicians from the Federal Bureau of Investigations. The teams were judged on their ability to select the proper protective equipment, perform technical skills, use EOD equipment, defeat explosive devices and preserve evidence.
The 759th EOD Company sent a battle-hardened team with multiple combat deployments to the competition, including 2nd Lt. Timothy Sethman from Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania; 1st Sgt. Brad Anderson from Salt Lake City; Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Dyer from Norco, California; and Spc. Brian Slade from Cool, California.
The Army EOD team had a combined total of more than eight years of experience in defusing explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Together with joint EOD partners, 20th CBRNE Command EOD technicians have defeated more than 50,000 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The team was selected in a manner that brought together a vast amount of experience and knowledge," said Sethman, a combat veteran with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The EOD teams tackled scenarios that included a chemical leak accompanied by multiple pipe bombs, a car with six improvised explosives devices, a car bomb with a secondary trigger and a vehicle-borne improvised explosives device on a bridge.
According to Sethman, the training scenarios were realistic and challenging.
"No aspects of the training were notional," said Sethman. "During the (hazardous materials) scenario, an actual system of broken chemical pipes were used along with a fog machine to simulate chemical release."
Some of the scenarios tested the EOD teams on their ability to integrate into a combined command post with hazardous materials teams, firefighters and Special Weapons and Tactics police units.
The competition also tested the teams on their ability to communicate and develop threat mitigation plans.
"We had an extremely high level of communication and teamwork," said Sethman. "Coupled with the critical thinking abilities of all team members, this allowed the team to tackle each scenario in an efficient and safe manner."
Sethman credited other Soldiers from the 759th EOD Company for helping his team to prepare during multiple training exercises on Fort Irwin before the competition.
Brig. Gen. JB Burton, commanding general of the 20th CBRNE Command, said Urban Shield demonstrates the caliber of Soldiers serving in the command.
"These Soldiers did a fantastic job," said Burton. "They represented the pride and professionalism of the entire command."
Burton said Urban Shield helped to improve interoperability with joint, interagency and allied partners.
"This exercise further enhances 20th CBRNE Command's abilities to respond to regional, emergent CBRNE crises within the joint and interagency environment," said Burton, a native of Tullahoma, Tennessee.