CAMP HOVEY, Republic of Korea -- Using radio signals and a remote control, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Soldier drives a heavy-duty robot down range to disarm an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
His partner approaches the IED dressed in a bomb suit and armed with a percussion actuated neutralizer to remove the threat.
This scenario is one of many designed to prepare the 718th Ordnance Company, 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division team to represent the U.S. Army Pacific during the Department of the Army (DA) Team of the Year (TOY) competition in Fort AP Hill, Virginia from June 3-8, 2018.
Staff Sgt. Edward Monczynski assigned to 718th Ordnance Co, EOD from Rochester, New York and Spc. Matthew Ruben assigned to 501st CBRNE Co from Minden, Nevada, were proclaimed the best EOD Team in Korea at the 2018 Dokkaebi Team of the Year competition March 23rd.
They went on to win the United States Army Pacific (USARPAC) EOD TOY competition in Hawaii, April 20th against the best teams from Alaska, Hawaii, and Republic of Korea.
The competition began with two physical fitness tests, a land navigation course, and a weapons qualification which assessed basic Soldier skills before transitioning into 16 scenario-based lanes that tested a wide variety of EOD specific tasks.
"We trained as much as we can together in our two man team for each competition and try to identify our shortcomings and train on those," said Monczynski. "These competitions are basically free training for us, running through different scenarios that we might have never seen before and they better prepare us in our skillset."
Monczynski and Ruben train together at Camp Hovey by practicing safe procedures for improvised explosive device disposal (IEDD). Their training involves using robotics and wearing a bomb suit to emplace radiographic equipment and explosive tools to diagnose and mitigate suspected hazardous items as realistically as they can. They train on different EOD scenarios, run through different techniques, and study the EOD publications.
Monczynski's job as team leader is to wear the bomb suit to disarm IEDs and be responsible for all aspects of the teams operations, maintenance, and training. Ruben's role is to assist him by setting up the used to disarm IEDs and conduct recon with radio signals.
"Using radio signals between the robot and the control unit, I drive the robot using an Xbox controller. I control the arms, I control the cameras, I can zoom in and out, I can change views, I have IR (infrared radiation), and many capabilities," said Ruben. "I drive the robot to the IED and disarm it or do a recon before my partner goes down range."
The team use the Automated Explosive Ordnance Disposal Publications System (AEODPS) for all their procedures, which is the guidance for everything they do. It gives specific measurements and angles for using the tools to fire through the fuse so the IED doesn't denote and they can prevent it from going off.
"There's not giant explosions and fireballs flying everywhere like in Hollywood," said Monczynski.
"The biggest hardship of EOD is the stress of the unknown," said Monczynski. "We run through different scenarios making sure everyone and the equipment stays safe."