YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. — U.S. military explosive ordnance disposal technicians and civilian law enforcement bomb squad personnel trained to combat advanced improvised explosive devices at the premier U.S. Army Pacific Northwest training venue.
The U.S. Army 53rd Ordnance Company (EOD) hosted the joint, multicomponent and interagency training with the Washington National Guard 319th EOD Company, Oregon National Guard 142nd Flight Wing Civil Engineer Squadron, U.S. Air Force 92nd Civilian Engineer Squadron and U.S. Navy EOD Mobile Unit 11 Detachment Northwest on Yakima Training Center.
FBI Special Agent Bomb Technicians and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also participated in the training.
The counter-IED training event provided valuable experience using alternative shaped charge and water-based tools in addition to disruption tools.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Quinton R. Reese, a platoon leader with the 53rd Ordnance Company (EOD), said the joint EOD techs discussed tactics, techniques and procedures with service-specific gear that usually only gets employed during joint advanced IED training.
“This was a great event with a much wider audience showcasing each tool that we as a total EOD force use to defeat an IED,” said Reese. “This training allowed some of our most junior team members the opportunity to see what their tools can actually do when used properly — so the first time they see one in action it’s not on a live device.”
While Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps EOD techs leverage their capabilities for different missions, they also have overlapping capabilities that complement each other. Reese said experiences are also different among EOD team leaders in the same service.
“The role of Army EOD teams varies from mounted patrols through an urban environment to dismounted Special Operations Forces support,” said Reese. “The experiences of one team leader to the next could be vastly different based on the mission sets.”
“By getting the various experiences and viewpoints of both junior and senior EOD technicians from all services and components as well as civilian counterparts, we can help bridge the gap and provide a forum for increasing the tool set both literally and in the problem-solving process for all EOD technicians, regardless of service,” said Reese.
Reese started his uniformed service as an enlisted Army geospatial imagery intelligence analyst before graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and becoming an EOD officer.
A native of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Reese said he was inspired to serve as an EOD officer by a mentor from the 53rd EOD Company, the same company he serves in now.
“His stories of the complex problem solving and the highly technical aspects of the work appealed to me,” said Reese. “As a prior enlisted Soldier, knowing that I would go through the same training as the Soldiers I would lead was a unique opportunity I could not pass up.”
Reese said he has also witnessed the importance of noncommissioned officer leadership during a downed aircraft response on Yakima Training Center.
“Thankfully, the crew walked away from the wreck that night,” said Reese. “Getting to see the difference that we as EOD can make as well as seeing my platoon sergeant effectively take control of a scene as a team leader was awe-inspiring and made me proud to be a part of this highly specialized field.”
The 53rd EOD Company, “Fighting 53rd,” is part of the 3rd EOD Battalion, 71st EOD Group and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. military’s premier CBRNE formation.
American Soldiers and U.S. Army civilians from the 20th CBRNE Command deploy from 19 bases in 16 states to confront and defeat the world’s most dangerous hazards.
Capt. Logan T. Morris, the commander of the 53rd EOD Company, said the training event gave the joint EOD and civilian bomb squad techs the opportunity to share their knowledge about functions, capabilities and branch-specific explosive tools and techniques.
Originally from Redmond, Oregon, Morris became an EOD officer after being mentored by his ROTC commander at Oregon State University, then Lt. Col. Eric Larsen, who was an EOD officer.
Morris said the Yakima Training Center is the ideal location for large-scale training events. The 327,000-acre training center can accommodate brigade-sized units for maneuver exercises.
The Eastern Washington State training center is more than two and a half hours away from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
“Yakima Training Center boasts nearly limitless opportunities for training to scale with the demands of units requirements,” said Morris. “YTC frequently hosts Canadian, Singaporean, Japanese, Korean and other Pacific Theater aligned joint and national training events and it is a bastion for brigade-level and below training with nearly no limitations.”
By Walter T. Ham IV
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