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News | Oct. 11, 2023

148th Fighter Wing EOD Flight Hosts Validation Course

By Audra Flanagan 148th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The 148th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight created and hosted an advanced conventional course for 30 technicians at the Minnesota National Guard’s Camp Ripley Training Center Sept. 18-22.

The course focused on five lines of effort: restoring readiness, investing in technology, driving innovation, developing and retaining leaders, and partnerships.

EOD technicians undertake dangerous missions in diverse and unforgiving locales worldwide. They work in teams to employ special tools and vehicles to locate, identify, recover, disarm and dispose of dangerous weapons that threaten people, property and natural environments.

“We had members from the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, Air Force and Navy attend this course,” said Capt. Ana Smith, the Air National Guard functional area manager. “Bringing technicians from different components and services allows us to share knowledge widely. Attendees can take what they learned to their units, which multiplies the value of the course.”

Two technicians from Papua New Guinea, partners with the Wisconsin National Guard in the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program, also attended the training. 

“Our Papua New Guinea partners were pleased with the training opportunity afforded to them at Camp Ripley,” said Senior Master Sgt. Erich Sanford, EOD flight superintendent, 115th Fighter Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard. “They were able to practice what had only been trained in theory.“

The course at the Leach Impact Area in Camp Ripley allowed technicians to use diverse tools on live ordnance. 

“The curriculum is designed for all technicians to use unexploded ordnance so they can troubleshoot realistic problems they could see when called upon,” said Master Sgt. Mark Hilleren, 148th EOD flight superintendent and advanced course designer.

EOD technicians, divided into five small teams, identified unexploded ordnance using reconnaissance techniques, X-ray interpretation and technical data. 

“Adaptability is the key to survivability in EOD, and working with other units in a team environment is the best way to shift and share our perspectives,” said Sanford.

“Teams spent a day testing an assortment of explosives and charges to understand their effects,” said Hilleren. “We allow teams the opportunity to get exposure to our entire explosive inventory and the space and freedom to practice varying techniques and effects and against actual targets.”

As part of the training, teams removed large caliber projectiles from M60 tank 105 mm barrels. 

“If a weapons system, such as an F-16 or A-10, experiences a jam or lodged projectile, an EOD team could be called to remove the projectile, which allows the equipment to be put back in service,’ said Hilleren.

The advanced course ended with a day-long protective works segment. Teams protected structures built by 148th Civil Engineering Squadron personnel from live ordnance. Technicians used technical data and publications to guide them using sandbag mitigation techniques and earth shock precautions. Actual rounds were detonated next to the structures to test the effectiveness of their designs.

“The training environment at Camp Ripley allowed us to conduct realistic training that capitalized on the real-world knowledge of EOD technicians from different backgrounds,” said Smith.