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104th Explosive Ordnance Disposal team trains for joint response

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Sara Kolinski
  • 104th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Explosive ordnance disposal technicians from the 104th Civil Engineering Squadron attended Raven’s Challenge Interoperability Exercise June 6-11, 2021, at Fort Devens Army Base, Devens, Massachusetts.

Raven’s Challenge is an annual, interagency, counter improvised explosive device exercise, funded by the Department of the Army and led by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The training provides military EOD technicians and public safety bomb squads with scenarios that focus on interoperability between the various agencies in operational environments while promoting teamwork, innovation, and free play in a no fault, live fire environment.

Agencies present at Fort Devens included the Department of Defense, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, state and local police departments, Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Secret Service, and international partners.

It was Staff Sgt. Kyle Tracy, Staff Sgt. Randy Burlingame, and Senior Airman Josh Torres, 104 CES EOD technicians, first time attending Raven’s Challenge. They spent the week with the New Jersey State Police bomb squad, exchanging tactics, techniques, and procedures while running through scenarios.

The team of six worked together to take x-rays of potential IEDs, gather intelligence from suspicious locations, disarm booby traps, and operate in no light/low light scenarios.

“Raven’s Challenge has been a great opportunity for us to work with our civilian counterparts and display how well we can do when we work together,” said Burlingame. “It’s been a great way for us to show how well we work as a team to accomplish what is required of us.”

The 104 CES EOD technicians agreed that the effort that the coordinators put into setting up the scenarios resulted in an extremely beneficial training opportunity.

“We're always bringing the latest events to the table, trying to simulate them, emulate them, and engage them out here at Raven’s Challenge,” said John Simpson, Raven’s Challenge program manager. “That’s what we want to know about, that’s what we want our soldiers trained on, and that’s what we want to train our public safety on.”

This type of training is essential to ensure that the agencies that respond to potential public safety threats know how to collaborate and achieve desired outcomes in real world events.

“It’s given us the opportunity to see how public safety bomb squads work to collect evidence and prosecute when they receive warrants to make arrests,” said Burlingame. “Now we can better help them in the future.”