By Andy Massanet, Fort Riley Public AffairsNovember 22, 2017
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- It's called non-standard entry by some Explosive Ordnance Disposal experts; others call it dynamic entry.
By either name it combines a variety of techniques that allow EOD Soldiers to gain entrance to a building potentially rigged with booby traps by criminals like drug dealers or terrorist adversaries in order to neutralize the threat.
Soldiers with the 774th Ordnance Company, 242nd Ordnance Battalion, 71st Ordnance Group (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), utilize abandoned houses, scheduled for demolition in the Colyer Manor, Corvias Military Housing area, to conduct non-standard entry training, on post.
"Under usual circumstances, I can't provide buildings for my Soldiers to train in because that training involves damage to the structure," said Sgt. 1st Class Geoff Dewitt, platoon sergeant for the 774th OD Co.
Dewitt added adversaries use tactics to funnel law enforcement officers, or Soldiers, into areas of danger. The EOD teams often have to create their own access points within a structure; usually by destructive methods, such as breaking through walls or windows with electric tools or sledgehammers.
Such methods, while necessary in real-world applications, can pose an issue when training Soldiers.
"Having structures available so Soldiers can train with such techniques becomes a challenge," Dewitt said. "In terms of regular training, what EOD Soldiers are left with is all theory and no practicum."
Dewitt approached Corvias Military Housing and asked if they could use the empty structures for non-standard entry training.
According to Michael Keating, regional health, safety and environment manager for Corvias, the efforts to assist the 774th OD Co. was unique in that it helped an Army unit, unlike the partnerships Corvias is more accustomed to building which are civilian in character.
In a tour of one of the structures, Dewitt pointed out a variety of ways criminals may try to booby trap a house, all of which are attempts to kill EOD Soldiers.
"For that reason," Dewitt said. "if I can make the bad guy say 'what the *** are they doing?' I'm doing my job."
"But, if I'm doing what he wants me to do or he is able to funnel me to places where there are traps; then I'm doing something wrong," he added.
In the real world, whether EOD teams are dealing with criminal or terrorist adversaries in the United States or in foreign counties, "the only limit is the imagination of the bad guys," Dewitt said.
Defeating them means making them uncertain about how EOD teams will enter the building, he said. Which is why going through a door -- the usual means of entry into a building -- isn't possible.
To Capt. Ben Weaver, commander of 774th OD Co., having realistic training is of great value to him and his Soldiers.
"There aren't many times that we get the opportunity to actually interrogate an entire house the way it is," Weaver said. "Usually we're having to set it up and use an installation training facility here, (so) we really can't do much of this kind of work. So being able to interrogate the house is a very unique opportunity for them."
Weaver added the training was an opportunity for Soldiers to, "actually think outside the box and attack the problem from a perspective that they would in an actual incident."
"We were lucky," Weaver said, adding non-availability of structures to be used for non-standard entry training is a common limitation issue among other Army installations.
In addition to helping the 774th OD Co., Corvias also partnered with the Fort Riley garrison to help provide realistic tornado response training earlier this year, helping to make possible the transfer of houses to the Kickapoo Nation as part of the Operation Walking Shield program, and regularly helps Fort Riley Fire and Emergency Services conduct search and rescue operations training.
"We often work in partnership with fire and police departments and other agencies, but this is one of those rare times we were actually able to assist an Army unit," Keating said. "And in talking with the EOD folks, we saw this as a unique opportunity to provide them with real-world experience breaching structures. So we are very pleased we could provide this for them."