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Explosive - Ordnance - Disposal

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kris Levasseur
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Imagine seeing a suspicious looking package on RAF Lakenheath. No one knows who it belongs to or how it got there. The 48th Civil Engineer Squadron's Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight is the first to be called in to investigate.

The mission of RAF Lakenheath's EOD flight is to provide improvised explosive device and aircraft support, train for deployments and investigate suspicious packages.

EOD supports calls to the flight line to deal with miss-fired weapons. EOD technicians are trained to remove and disarm hazardous materials or munitions.

They are also prepared to respond to an unexploded ordnance, or munition, also called UXO's. However, in most instances the Ministry of Defense handles UXOs found in the local area.

As the bulk of their mission takes place downrange, EOD members train extensively for deployment scenarios, such as roadside bombs and improvised explosive device's. Occasionally, they return to the U. S. for additional training courses.

"To train for deployments, we set up replica scenarios from reports we have received of actual incidents that have occurred in the area of responsibility," said Staff Sgt. Kevin Cummings, 48th EOD operations.

"We also try to run a couple worst-case scenario operations so we can develop a plan in case the worst were to arise," he added.

The job downrange is extremely hazardous, as EOD members put their lives on the line everyday to get the job done.

"On any given day, your vehicle could be hit by an IED, or someone could take pot shots at you as you drive by. I think the thing that really helps us deal with the stress from day to day is that we have such a tight family atmosphere between EOD technicians around the world, no matter what branch of service," said Sergeant Cummings.

Unlike most Airmen, EOD technicians do not deploy on a regular air expeditionary force cycle. They deploy in cycles identified as red, white and blue. These six-month cycles, set up solely for EOD, allow each member to spend a year at home before their next deployment. At this current time, approximately 65 percent of RAF Lakenheath's EOD flight is deployed, with 22 of the 32 Airmen downrange.

Due to frequent deployments, there is very little direct supervision, affording junior enlisted and even NCOs the opportunity to hold higher leadership positions, Tech. Sgt. Charles Price, 48th EOD acting flight chief.

"It takes the kind of person who doesn't need to be told to do things and can make decisions on their own," said Sergeant Price. "I couldn't see doing anything else."

Technicians attend a seven month joint-service technical school at the Navy School Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. On average there is a 30 percent washout rate per class. This average can increase to 85 percent if students are unable to obtain security clearance.

At home or downrange, EOD technicians protect fellow service members and families by disempowering and disarming terrorists' most used weapon--the IED.