FORT CARSON, Colo. - The 71st Ordnance Group (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) decided its top EOD team in an annual competition April 8-12, to determine the best of the best within its ranks.
This year's winners are Staff Sgt. Christopher Draves and Spc. Gregory Krawciw, an explosive ordnance disposal team with 21st Ordnance Company (Weapons of Mass Destruction), Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. This win advances the team to a Department of the Army level competition in June, called the U.S. Army Ordnance Crucible.
The duo are the second consecutive team from the 21st Ord. Co. to represent the 71st EOD at the crucible. Last year's team took second place; a feat Draves and Krawciw hope to surpass.
"Preparation is key," said Krawciw, adding that he and Draves trained every day in the weeks leading up to the competition.
In preparation, they will first review their performance from the 71st EOD competition; capitalizing on what they did right and making corrections where needed.
"[The competition] was realistic and practical," said Krawciw. "And well structured," Draves added.
Master Sgt. Chris Phillips, senior coordinator for the competition, said the events were specifically chosen to mirror events that the winning team can expect to see during the Army level competition.
Events from this year's competition included an Army physical fitness test, an 8-mile ruck march, rifle marksmanship and 12 simulated scenarios. Each scenario was designed to represent a real-world situation that EOD technicians might respond to, such as the detection, removal and detonation of explosive devices, a hostage situation and containment of harmful chemicals.
Phillips said the competition was also designed to, "help Soldiers sharpen skills and become more rounded technicians."
Outside of competition, 71st EOD technicians provide expedient response in support of homeland defense and combatant commanders, made possible by its three battalions and 19 companies, strategically positioned in locations west of the Mississippi River.
"Our EOD forces have to be ready for and can respond to whatever our adversaries throw at us," said Lt. Gen. Reynold Hoover, deputy commander, U.S. Northern Command.
Hoover, a former EOD officer who has earned the coveted Master EOD badge, visited with the teams to see how they train for current and emerging threats.
"Competitions, like this one, have real-world applications that are vital to the defense of our Nation," added Hoover, who also serves as vice commander of U.S. Element, North American Aerospace Defense Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.
The team plans to continue their daily training regimen so they can win the crucible and earn the title of top EOD team in the Army.