Audacious Warrior provides joint training opportunities

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Paul Gorman

Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians from multiple services and countries converged on Volk Field Air National Guard Base May 13, for the tenth annual Audacious Warrior exercise.

The 11-day exercise was hosted by the 115th Fighter Wing and included over 70 participants assigned to the Air National Guard, U.S. Air Force Reserve and U.S. Marine Corps, as well as military EOD specialists from the Czech Republic.

“Joint exercises can be invaluable for a small flight that primarily trains in an isolated home station environment,” said Senior Master Sgt. Erich Sanford, 115th Fighter Wing EOD superintendent and exercise coordinator. “They allow critical cross-pollination of ideas and techniques that can broaden the perspective of everyone involved.”

The training incorporated realistic scenarios consistent with both U.S. based operations and worldwide contingency deployments to include the detection and render safe procedures for land mines, booby traps, drones and unexploded ordnance.

Airman 1st Class Samuel Breyer, EOD technician assigned to the Minnesota Air National Guard’s 148th Fighter Wing, attended Audacious Warrior just three weeks after completing the eight-month initial career field training course.

According to Breyer, Audacious Warrior introduced elements from every section of his formal training in a random and unpredictable manner.

“I think this was a great trial by fire,” said Breyer. “I learned a lot, not only about EOD but about how it fits into the military as a whole.”

In addition to EOD technicians, the exercise incorporated specialists in emergency management, power production, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning. By combining the additional career fields, exercise planners were able to introduce scenarios involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear enhanced weapons.

Master Sgt. Glynn Willard, emergency management superintendent for the Air National Guard’s 130th Airlift Wing in Charleston, West Virginia, was a lead planner for emergency management involvement in the exercise.

“EM and EOD benefit greatly when working together responding to a complex threat,” Willard said. “Both functions act as force multipliers to each other’s mission and can reduce the overall footprint necessary to respond to both CBRN and explosive threats simultaneously.”

Volk Field is one of three primary regional training sites for military EOD teams nationwide. The 10,000-acre combat readiness training center provides Audacious Warrior participants with on-site classrooms, training and lodging facilities. It is also located near Fort McCoy, a 60,000-acre U.S. Army Reserve complex accommodating contingency scenarios while providing a variety of heavy weapons ranges.

“We’ve been fortunate to establish a fantastic working relationship with range scheduling, maintenance and safety personnel at Fort McCoy,” said Sanford. “The same can be said for the support personnel at Volk Field. Civil engineering, lodging, scheduling and munitions; they’ve all been incredibly helpful.”

Objectives presented throughout the exercise satisfied numerous task requirements specified in the EOD career field education and training plan.

Sanford was enthusiastic about the prospects of Audacious Warrior as it continues to evolve and grow, offering advice to future EOD flights considering taking part.

“Come with an open mind, wanting to learn and willing to practice,” he relayed. “If you’re prepared to work hard, the payoff is some of the best training available to EOD techs.”