FORT RILEY, Kansas – U.S. Army Explosives Ordnance Disposal technicians cleared the way for combat engineers to place an improvised bridge across Milford Lake during wet gap training.
Soldiers from the Fort Riley, Kansas-based 774th Ordnance Company (EOD) and 630th Ordnance Company (EOD) located and defeated mock explosives and enabled the 50th Multi-Role Bridge Company, 5th Engineer Battalion, to build and operate an improved ribbon bridge, Aug. 9 – 11.
Both EOD companies are 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. Specialized units from the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-based 20th CBRNE Command deploy around the world to enable military operations by confronting and defeating the world’s most dangerous weapons and hazards.
U.S. Army combat engineers routinely practice wet gap bridging to support maneuver forces during large scale combat operations.
Crossing the lake in Zodiac boats under the cover of darkness, the Army EOD technicians located a series of explosive devices in the landing zone for the ribbon bridge. The EOD teams then cleared a path for the wet gap operations by defeating everything from mock improvised explosive devices to a rocket launcher aimed at the beachhead.
“We had three different teams train over the two iterations,” said Capt. Justin W. Vernon, the commander of 774th EOD Company. “We also had two EOD observer-controllers to evaluate the teams as well as four others to observe the entire operation.
“I think the highlight was building a new relationship with another unit and the successful integration of our units into their operation,” said Vernon, a seven-year U.S. Army veteran from Stuart, Virginia, who has deployed to Iraq.
Soldiers from the 774th EOD Company have recently deployed for missions in Europe and Africa. EOD technicians from the company also support civil authorities in response to military munitions found both on and off base, across several states from southern Kansas to the Canadian border.
Capt. Martin D. Trepanier, the assistant operations officer for the 5th Engineer Battalion, said the EOD technicians made the training more realistic.
“EOD fully integrated into our scenario,” said Trapanier. “They cleared some unexploded ordnance on the far side slip as to be expected for a contested gap crossing.”
Based on Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, the 5th Engineer Battalion provides survivability, mobility, counter-mobility and general engineering support across the full spectrum of conflict.
Trapanier said the EOD Soldiers integrated into the planning process and included training simulators to make the training more robust. Soldiers from the 5th Engineer Battalion played opposing forces during the exercise.
“The scenario had multiple (unexploded ordnance devices) on the far side of the gap as well as a cache site as the maneuver force moved along to establish a hasty defense for a simulated enemy reserve element,” said Trapanier, a Phoenix native who has served in Afghanistan.