Air Force team trains Afghans on EOD ops
Over the past month, an Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal team has been training members of an Afghan National Army EOD team on the most current methods to defeat improvised explosive devices.
Members of the 466th Air Expeditionary Squadron EOD charlie flight will soon conclude a several-week-long training program that teaches the ANA team basic principles of countering IEDs in an ongoing effort to increase self-sufficiency for the Afghan National Army.
Early on in the training program, the Air Force EOD team provided several verbal scenarios and table-top exercises to evaluate what the ANA team already knew.
"We needed to test them to understand what their capabilities were, so we would know what to emphasize," said Staff Sgt. Michael Perkins, Air Force EOD team lead and lead trainer. Prior to the validation process, the ANA team leader attended a formal ANA EOD training for five and a half months, while the other two ANA members attended a similar, but shorter course.
Through this validation process, the ANA team will be certified to perform 14 training tasks to include using their remote-controlled vehicle, using a bomb suit, using hook and line, planning and conducting the initial part of IED operation, writing reports, planning and conducting a search and conducting a post-blast investigation.
"These are very similar tasks to the ones we train our new Airmen on," said Air Force Capt. Brennan Vincello, 466 AES EOD charlie flight commander.
Most of these tasks are performed on a controlled field course, where the three-man Air Force EOD team evaluates the ANA team's progress. Without live explosives on the field course, EOD has the freedom to assist the ANA in a scenario or just observe.
"There's value in letting someone do the wrong thing and experience the consequences of that," said Perkins, who is deployed from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and a Phoenix native. "Later, we'll use it as a teaching tool and provide them examples of how they can improve."
The Air Force team is also teaching principles that aren't found in a textbook.
"Unlike some career fields, there are no black and white answers here," he added. "So, EOD has two rules: what works and what doesn't.
"Sometimes, the right thing to do would be completely wrong in another situation," said Perkins.
This ANA EOD team will be assigned to an Afghan unit and tasked to perform route clearance and counter IED once the validation process is completed.
"The principles we're teaching are invaluable and will be very significant for them sometime in the near future," said Perkins.
"Today, IEDs are the front-line of kinetic activity on the battlefield," said Lt. Col. Keith Reeves, 466th Air Expeditionary Squadron commander. In 2010, more than 250 U.S. servicemembers were killed by improvised explosive devices while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
"The overall goal for this particular ANA team is to be able to conduct RCPs and disable IEDs when they pose a threat to forces," said Vincello, who is deployed from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.
The ANA team is expected to be certified on these tasks by November.
Article by Senior Airman David Carbajal, 451st Air Expeditionary Wing