WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, New Mexico – A U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company trained with Special Operations Forces at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, during Exercise Sage Eagle, Jan. 24 – 31.
Army EOD technicians from the Fort Bliss, Texas-based 734th Ordnance Company (EOD) integrated with Fort Bragg, North Carolina-based 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) Soldiers during ground assault and air assault training missions.
According to a Special Forces operations sergeant, the EOD company bolsters the lethality and flexibility of the Special Forces teams.
“EOD provides a significant capability to our Operational Detachment Alpha teams throughout our exercise evaluation,” the sergeant said. “The level of importance is substantial as it provides the detachment an additional capability to conduct operations without degrading the detachment’s organic personnel.”
The 734th EOD Company is part of the 3rd EOD Battalion, 71st EOD Group and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command. From 19 bases in 16 states, Soldiers and civilians from the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-headquartered 20th CBRNE Command confront and defeat the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied partners.
From the rear on Fort Bliss to the tip of the spear overseas, Soldiers from the 734th EOD Company have supported operations in the U.S. Army Europe Africa area of responsibility in 2020 and deployed to Iraq in 2018. The company currently has a platoon serving in the U.S. Africa Command area of operations.
When assigned to support domestic explosive mitigation missions, the 734th EOD Company responds to military munitions found in Arizona, New Mexico, nine counties in West Texas and four international ports of entry.
Capt. Helvey R. Mackenzie, the commander of the 734th EOD Company, said his EOD Soldiers began training for the exercise during a Special Operations Forces Support Training course conducted by the 71st Ordnance Group (EOD) on Fort Hood, Texas. In August, the entire company also attended an advanced marksmanship course.
“The course was taught by a professional shooting instructor who has over 20 years of experience in special operations and instantly improved their marksmanship abilities,” said Mackenzie, a native of Louisville, Kentucky. “The Soldiers continued to push the limits of their training.”
An Afghanistan veteran who has served in the U.S. Army for eight years, Mackenzie said Exercise Sage Eagle improved the ability of his EOD technicians to support Special Operations Forces during large scale combat operations.
“This exercise allows them to integrate with the Operational Detachment Alpha teams they will serve alongside,” said Mackenzie. “Building these relationships early is crucial due to the inherent danger of our profession and supporting Special Operations Forces. They will create and adapt to their tactics, technique and procedures allowing them to provide better support. This increases lethality and effectiveness of the teams executing their mission.”