The 3D Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Battalion conducted the Team of the Year Competition at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Jan. 22 through Jan. 26, 2024. Teams annually gather to showcase their physical, mental, and technical skills.
"The EOD Team of the Year competition brings our teams together every year to compete and bring out the best to see which one has the skill set physically, mentally, and technically." said Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Paul Cunningham of the 3rd Ordnance Battalion EOD, underscoring the competition's significance.
The 3d EOD competition consisted of several training and scenario-based lanes such as the Army Combat Fitness Test, Soldier Skills Tasks/Stress Shoot, 3 days of EOD problem scenarios and an 8-mile ruck to culminate the competition.
"When you bring the EOD teams together, they can learn from each other, learn from their mistakes in the competition, and learn from their successes," said Command Sgt. Major Cunningham.
During the Soldier Skills Task, the teams participating executed multiple lanes with a time limit of 20 minutes per task.
"EOD teams running two to three-man teams,” said Sgt. Neely, an EOD team leader attached to 707 EOD Company out of JBLM, Washington. “Without one, the other one can't operate."
Soldiers completed 8 task lanes such as, maintain an M4-series carbine, an M17 pistol, an M249 machine gun, operate a tactical handheld radio, perform first aid for a suspected fracture, request medical evacuation, don chemical equipment and locate points on a map.
“Competitions like this are some of the only experiences people can get amongst other training,” said Sgt. Neely, emphasizing the value of the competition.
The EOD problem scenarios consisted of 4 graded tasks evaluating the EOD teams in the competition. Task 1 was to secure the land in the EOD scenario to provide safety for civilian and military personnel. Task 2 is to identify the equipment used for the scenario. Task 3 is to identify the explosive device used in the scenario. Task 4 grades the method of demolition, deemed necessary or not.
“The different perspectives from various bases you get a lot of good input on how you can improve on your skills,” said Sgt. Neely.
Soldiers participating in the event acquired their skills during Explosive Ordnance Disposal Advanced Individual Training (AIT). The training duration for the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 89D EOD is 37 weeks and must recertify approximately every 3 years.
"Study hard, and if you do fail, just get back up. Brush yourself off and keep going because you're going to fail all the time. You might as well take it with a good attitude," said Sgt. Neely, providing advice for excelling in the competition.
Team 3 member, Sgt. George Wang attached to 53rd Ordnance Co. out of Yakima, Washington, shares the challenges during the competition.
Skills that are helpful in this MOS include effective communication, ability to work under stress, ability to use computers, organization, interest in a job involving algebra, chemistry, trigonometry, geometry, physics and critical thinking.
“Trying to get in the mindset of actually going out and doing the best that you could,” said Sgt. Wang. “Staying motivated throughout this weather and being tired.”
When working in a field setting or responding to a call, the specialist will ensure the area is safe and work against the clock to complete their task before the ordnance fires or the possibility of an ambush. The position is fast-paced and requires soldiers to work cohesively with team members.
"Last year, our second-place team went on to win the group position then went on to win the Department of the Army competition," said Command Sgt. Major Cunningham.
Team 3 members, Staff Sgt. Corey Ver Doorn and Sgt. George Wang attached to 53rd Ordnance Co. were announced the EOD Battalion Team of the Year competition winners Jan. 26, 2024. Sgt. Wang shared his views on achieving victory.
“It feels really good to win.” shared Sgt. Wang.
Command Sgt. Major Cunningham expressed how the 3d EOD Bn Team of the Year competition stands as a testament to the dedication, skill, and unity embodied by these exceptional teams.
"The Team of the Year competition absolutely brings a sense of pride to the unit,” said Command Sgt. Major Cunningham. “That's the camaraderie you're not going to get anywhere else."