FORT A.P. HILL, Va. - The Ordnance Crucible Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team of the Year training event began today with an opening ceremony at Heth Hall, hosted by Brig. Gen. Heidi Hoyle, the 41st Chief of Ordnance.

"Who's ready to win," said Hoyle.

The EOD Team of the Year is the first of three major training events for the 2018 U.S. Army Ordnance Crucible. The other events are the Ammunition Transfer Holding Point Team of the Year, to be held here June 24-29, and a Combat Repair Team of the Year, to be held at Fort Pickett, Va., Sept. 9-14.

The Ordnance Crucible encourages knowledge sharing between the teams in attendance. The sharing of techniques and information provides a platform to solicit invaluable feedback necessary to shape and refine ordnance doctrine and training to enable the readiness for the Army of 2030 and beyond.

Each event will test Soldiers' teamwork and critical thinking skills as they apply technical solutions to real world problems. The events will also allow divisions to display their respective units' skills as participants respond to tasks in a physically and mentally demanding training environment.

"There is so much to be gained from this event," said Hoyle. "It's an opportunity for our participants to assess themselves, their team and the established [tactics, techniques and procedures] that we use each and every day."

Throughout the week, five teams of two Soldiers will be assessed on their ability to conduct operations and associated tasks centered upon detecting, identifying, conducting on-site evaluation, rendering safe, exploiting and final disposition of hazardous devices.

"The teams here today represent the best in the field from their respective units," said Hoyle. "They are not here by accident...They are here because of their constant, repetitive, exacting preparation, which will save lives - the ultimate goal of the EOD mission."

Hoyle emphasized that the knowledge gained from the event will build upon the lessons learned from last year's crucible to further enhance future training and readiness standards.

Following her speech was guest speaker, retired Lt. Col. Robert Leiendecker.

Leiendecker, currently serves as the National EOD Association historian and has more than 50 years of experience in the EOD career field.

Leiendecker said that even though he and the Soldier come from different generations of EOD, they have a common bond, represented by the EOD badge.

"You are the best of the best," said Leiendecker. "By being here this morning, you have shown that you have the skill set to compete at this level.

Leiendecker assured the competitors that even though they have a tough week ahead of them, he was confident in their abilities to preserver.

"Now it's time for you to go out, do your best, and be tough," said Leiendecker.