McGREGOR RANGE, N.M. -- The West Virginia Army National Guard's 753rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company headed out earlier this month to the desert training area here to conduct post-mobilization training before deploying to Afghanistan.

The 1st Battalion, 361st Engineer Regiment, Task Force Redhawk, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West, was tasked with training the West Virginia EOD unit that is comprised of Soldiers from New York, California, Georgia, Arizona, Washington and Puerto Rico.

"Task Force Redhawk, the counter-improvised explosive device trainer/mentors, along with subject matter experts from the 741st EOD, were well prepared with real-world scenarios that would test the capabilities and ultimately validate our unit for mobilization overseas," said Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Milani, 753rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company operations sergeant.

Tensions ran high in anticipation for the culminating training event. The 753rd Tactical Operations Center was buzzing with radio chatter and the sounds of gear and equipment rustling, as teams prepared for their first missions. Task Force Redhawk issued the 753rd their missions, and the EOD teams were soon underway. Tasked with multiple missions ranging from disabling improvised explosive devices, home-made explosives laboratories, unexploded ordnance, post blast analysis, and chemical weapons clearance, the TOC was responsible for prioritization of the EOD team's responses.

The EOD teams responded to incidents in Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles carrying robots and a vast array of other specialized team gear.

"Being ready to take on any mission at a moment's notice comes with the territory when conducting EOD operations," said Staff Sergeant Eric Kelly, a 753rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company team leader.

Multiple day and night missions ran non-stop and a battle rhythm developed amongst the teams. Throughout the CTE, the EOD teams learned new skills. Conducting house searches with robots, donning the bomb suit, and responding to the next medical evacuation report became second nature to the team.

"The EOD-specific training designed and implemented by Taskforce Redhawk and 741st EOD was difficult and challenging, testing the tactics, knowledge, and courage of our EOD teams," said Capt. Keith Toohey, 753rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company commander.