Ali Al Salem AB EOD Host Multi-National FTX

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U.S. Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians respond to a simulated suicide bomber threat during a field training exercise at Forward Operating Base Gerber, Kuwait, Nov. 17, 2021. The 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Flight hosted the FTX, which included ordnance clearing, identifying homemade explosives, defeating unmanned aerial vehicles, improvised explosive devices and SVs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy)

EOD FTX with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, the Royal Air Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force.

November 23, 2021
Story by Senior Airman Michael Murphy, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

FORWARD OPERATING BASE GERBER, KUWAIT — The 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight hosted a field training exercise with partner nations at Forward Operating Base Gerber, Kuwait, Nov. 15-18.

The training simulated what EOD technicians could experience when deployed to austere locations, such as clearing ordnance from a new base to make operable, engaging hostile forces, defeating Improvised Explosive Devices and homemade explosives, suicide vests and securing a base perimeter 24/7 with minimal manning.

“The training is really for the benefit of our EOD techs,” said Staff Sgt. Isaac Maytum, assigned to the 386th EOD and the coordinator of the FTX. “An important aspect that we wanted our techs to experience was working with other branches and still being able to operate. A lot of our training revolves around complex training scenarios and the ability to accomplish the mission regardless of the uniform next to you.”

Maytum went on to explain that the technical skills EOD members practice can have incredible impacts in a joint environment, and those impacts require professional work to help build those relationships.

“Each call that an EOD tech responds to is different and requires a very specific skillset,” Maytum said. “An IED could be placed in someone’s house that they have raised their family in or had in their family for generations. The situations we deal with impact families and loved ones. It’s imperative for EOD techs to practice at the highest possible level of expertise while conducting it in a way that acknowledges the sensitivity to those being affected.”

EOD personnel from the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, the Royal Air Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force. were also in attendance for the field exercise as players and observer controllers, helping to share unique perspectives and different tactics to the operations.

“Royal Australian Air Force EOD techs use very similar standard operating procedures as our U.S. Air Force counterparts,” said RAAF Sgt. Mark Whyte, a RAAF EOD technician who participated as a training advisor during simulations. “Our close partnerships have fostered many situations where as a force we are able to sharpen one another in similar knowledge while also sharing new ones that we bring from our home stations.”
During the FTX, the five international military services responded to 72 simulated contingency responses.

Another focus area of training for the EOD FTX was unmanned aerial vehicle incursions and properly defeating UAV threats.

“EOD techs would treat a drone like any other threat that they face,” Maytum said. “We are highlighting drones due to their rise in commercial use. There are a lot of uncontrolled variables that come into play for service members when attempting to defeat a drone. The possibilities are endless when it comes to how they can be utilized for an attack and reconnaissance.”

“At the end of the day, it came down to seeing how well our EOD techs can think on the fly, operate in a new environment, and pair up with someone they have never met, all while still completing the mission,” Maytum said. “I couldn’t be happier with how our EOD techs evolved and operated given the complex situations we threw at them.”