WINTER PARK, Colo. - U.S. Army explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technicians from the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command trained with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies at Raven's Challenge May 6-10 in Winter Park, Colorado.
The exercise is an annual, interagency, counter improvised explosive device (IED) exercise that incorporates scenarios focused on interoperability capabilities between public safety bomb squads and military explosive ordnance disposal units in operational domestic-type IED environments.
The exercise is funded by the Army and led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with support from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Defense Department, the Transportation Security Administration and state and local public safety agencies throughout the country.
This week-long, non-graded exercise pits EOD teams against emerging threats in a challenging environment across multiple scenarios and training events.
"This is where the rubber meets the road because we really do it here," said John Simpson, program manager for the Raven's Challenge Interoperability Exercise.
One of this year's four exercises was held at the YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch near Winter Park, Colorado, which provided both space with 5,000 acres and also a variety of weather conditions.
"We let these guys get out there and learn about each other's tactics, techniques and procedures," Simpson said. EOD is different than many other military specialties in that it they can be called on at any time to support local, state or federal public safety incidents or operations.
Soldiers from 20th CBRNE Command's 630th and 774th EOD Companies, Fort Riley, Kansas; the 707th EOD Company, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; the 764th EOD Company, Fort Carson, Colorado; and the 68th CBRN (TE) Company, Fort Hood, Texas, trained not only with local and regional EOD technicians but also other services and international teams.
"We try to pair the military squad with the nearest public safety squad that is in attendance so when they do have to go out and work together, they've had a relationship that has been established here," Simpson said.
Soldiers and their team members were trained on coping with emerging threats such as drones, scene evaluation, intelligence gathering and even underground complex procedures. The training also included how to locate, identify, render safe and collect forensic evidence.
"We put a tremendous amount of resources into realism," Simpson said. He added that drones with explosives and 3D manufactured IEDs are huge emerging threats and so the program ensures training on the most up-to-date techniques being used across the world.