Northern Challenge offers unique training experience
By Sgt. Frank Sanchez III, 21st TSC Public AffairsOctober 19, 2011
KEFLAVIK, Iceland, oct. 19, 2011 -- The ongoing battle against the threat of improvised explosive devices was the focus for Soldiers from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command's 702nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 16th Sust. Brigade, based in Grafenwoehr, Germany.
The Soldiers attended the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's annual Explosive Ordnance Disposal, or EOD, exercise which was hosted by the Icelandic Coast Guard at the Naval Station here, from Sept. 26 to Oct. 7.
The exercise referred to as "Northern Challenge" brought together EOD Soldiers from all over Europe and pitted them in Afghanistan-based scenarios involving improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, such as the ones deployed Soldiers currently face. The goal was to present a unique training opportunity for EOD teams serving, or preparing to deploy in support of Overseas Contingency Operations.
Lt. Col. Sigurdur Ásgrímsson, the Commander of the Icelandic Coast Guard, says this training truly benefits the Soldiers of the 702nd EOD as well as their fellow technicians during this partnership event.
"It is all EOD techs here and they all have different types of equipment," said Ásgrímsson. "It is very good to see how everyone works and cooperates together."
U.S. Soldiers took advantage of this opportunity to train alongside Soldiers from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Austria and the Icelandic Coast Guard.
The technicians faced a series of realistic and challenging IED problems throughout the event. The exercise served to test each EOD team's equipment and have techniques evaluated by experienced foreign counterparts.
Additionally, the exercise provided Soldiers of the participating nations an open forum to exchange ideas on techniques and an opportunity to demonstrate their specialized equipment to their NATO partners.
"Overall, this entire mission was probably one of the greatest training missions that I have done," said Sgt. Jeremy Rininger, the team leader with the 702nd EOD.