FORT RILEY, Kansas – U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians used a sniper rifle to defeat mortars and smoke grenades during standoff munitions disruption training.
To target and eliminate explosives at a safe distance, EOD Soldiers from the 774th Ordnance Company (EOD) honed their skills with the M107 sniper rifle July 27.
"We had eight total ordnance items at the range – an 81mm mortar, a 120mm mortar and six smoke grenades were set up about 300 meters away," said 1st Lt. Travis A. Gere, the operations officer for the 774th EOD Company.
Gere said the EOD Soldiers hit every munition, except for two smoke grenades.
"Smaller ordnance items can sometimes be displaced due to close impact of the large caliber round and be thrown from the line of sight," said Gere, adding that the smoke grenades would burst when hit with the .50 caliber round.
“Generally the ordnance will burn out but is not uncommon to have them explode,” said Gere. “These mortars were practice mortars and have a small charge in them to indicate when they hit the ground. When our rounds impacted the items, the spotting charge functioned, which indicates a possible detonation could have occurred in its high-explosive counterpart.”
Standoff munitions disruption or SMUD training is conducted twice a year as a part of the EOD team leader certification process. Staff Sgt. Robert S. Kirkendall, an Operation Inherent Resolve veteran from Davis, California, led the training.
Like other American Soldiers, Army EOD technicians qualify with the M17 handgun and M4 rifle but they use the M107 sniper rifle to destroy explosives at long ranges.
“While the M107 is technically a weapon, for us, it is utilized as a tool for standoff munitions disruption training,” said Gere, a 10-year Army veteran from Caro, Michigan, who served in Operation Enduring Freedom. “SMUD is a technique with the goal of producing a deflagration or rapid burning that reduces or eliminates the threat of the munition.”
Gere said the SMUD training took place at Fort Riley’s Range 52, a large demolition and breaching range that gives the EOD technicians the freedom to train with various types of tools.
The 774th EOD Company is stationed on Fort Riley, home to the storied 1st Infantry Division.
EOD Soldiers from the 774th EOD Company have saved lives and enabled operations around the world. They have recently supported missions in Europe and Africa.
The company not only deploys overseas to combat explosives devices but also supports civil authorities in response to military munitions found both on and off base, across several states from southern Kansas to the Canadian border.
The company is part of the Fort Riley-based 79th EOD Battalion, Fort Carson, Colorado-based 71st EOD Group and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command.
Headquartered on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, 20th CBRNE Command units deploy around the world to confront and defeat chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive weapons and hazards.
Based on 19 installations in 16 states, 20th CBRNE Command is home to 75 percent of the Army’s EOD and CBRN forces as well as the CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity, 1st Area Medical Laboratory, Nuclear Disablement Teams and Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordination Teams.
During nearly 20 years of conflict in the U.S. Central Command area of operations, EOD Soldiers have proven their mettle against a wide variety of explosives. Since 2003, 20th CBRNE Command EOD technicians partnered with U.S. Navy EOD technicians to disable hundreds of thousands of improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Army EOD Soldiers employ a wide variety of techniques and tools to defeat the explosive devices that imperil lives and impede missions. They also train regularly with joint, interagency and allied forces to hone their skills and maintain proficiency in their high stakes profession. Standoff munitions disruption is another weapon in their arsenal.
“This technique is generally used in a non-permissive (hostile) environment, meaning an area in which we do not have complete safety or freedom of maneuver,” said Gere. “It provides several advantages and the main advantage is distance from the hazard. Distance from a hazard is one of the greatest determining factors in protection of personnel and property.”