By Walter T. Ham IV, 20th CBRNE Command Public AffairsJune 24, 2015
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (June 24, 2015) -- U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal, or EOD, technicians are training with international and interagency bomb squads across the nation during Exercise Raven's Challenge May 2 - June 26.
Hundreds of law enforcement and military bomb squads are participating in the nationwide exercise, including teams from the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
U.S. Army EOD techs from the 20th CBRNE Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives) are leveraging their experience and expertise during the exercise.
The Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-based 20th CBRNE Command combats chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats around the world. Since it was activated by U.S. Army Forces Command a decade ago, the 20th CBRNE Command has defeated more than 50,000 improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition to supporting military operations, 20th CBRNE responds to unexploded ordnance incidents in support of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
Soldiers from 20th CBRNE Command's 71st EOD Group and 52nd EOD Group are participating in Raven's Challenge, including the Fort Carson, Colorado-based 242nd EOD Battalion; the Fort Drum, New York-based 63rd EOD Battalion; and the Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington-based 3rd EOD Battalion.
From booby trapped houses to vessel-borne IEDs, the bomb squads have focused on defeating a variety of improvised explosive devices at training venues in Denver; Winter Park, Colorado; Camp Blanding, Florida; Jacksonville, Florida; Oriskany, New York; Elma, Washington; and McNeil Island, Washington, since the exercise began in May.
In addition to Army EOD units, bomb squads from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, also known as ATF; Federal Bureau of Investigations; Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration; and various state and local law enforcement agencies are training together during Raven's Challenge.
"The training arranged by the ATF was excellent in all respects, realistic and reflecting actual recent events and threats," said Capt. Thomas L. Vail from 20th CBRNE Command. "The forensic and intelligence aspect gave the federal and military staff a true example of what an extended event like this would look like from that angle."
Vail said the bomb squads are training to locate, identify, render safe and collect forensic evidence.
"The EOD teams had the opportunity to work directly with their civilian counterparts from far and wide and compare tools and methods, as well as make enduring friendships that routinely get exercised when Army EOD teams support civil authorities in their communities," said Vail, a U.S. Army EOD officer and Iraq veteran from Newfield, Maine.
Brig. Gen. William E. King IV, the 20th CBRNE commanding general, said the exercise demonstrated the importance of having trained, equipped and ready CBRNE units.
"Inside the cordon and outside the wire, our Soldiers and civilians take on the most dangerous weapons in the world," said King, a native of Killeen, Texas. "We always welcome the opportunity to sharpen our skills with our joint, interagency and allied partners."