EOD: Locate, identify, neutralize
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- The motto, “initial success or total failure,” fuels Airmen with the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal flight to think outside the fuse box and accept nothing less than perfection when performing their duties.
The EOD mission is to locate, identify and neutralize explosive devices. By clearing those hazards, personnel enable base operations to resume as quickly and safely as possible.
“Our job is important,” said Senior Airman Manuel Carvajal, a 35th CES EOD technician. “For us, it is not about our life only, but the person it may affect. We ask ourselves, does this improvised explosive device affect one hostage or is it next to a very important facility like a hospital, which can damage hundreds of lives.”
Although some may think the procedure for removing an IED is fast paced, Staff Sgt. Justin Beasley, a 35th CES EOD technician, said on the contrary, it is quite the opposite.
“It is not just the EOD guy finding some roadside bombs and blowing stuff up,” Beasley said. “It is a very extensive process, because there is a paperwork side of our job too. There are other agencies we coordinate with who support us.”
He added time is situationally dependent when disabling IEDs, but safely removing a bomb as quick as possible is what they train for.
The flight spends at least 24 hours a week training for various scenarios, such as ones in Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, where IEDs are unpredictable and extensively utilized by insurgents in Afghanistan.
“The very first IED I ever diffused was kind of surreal,” said Beasley, speaking on a time he deployed to Afghanistan. “I constantly trained, then had a month to learn about the area I would operate in and what I would deal with as far as roadside bombs—then suddenly I was there.”
Beasley added the procedures of disarming his first IED felt like second nature to him.
“It felt like being a professional athlete; their whole mental and physical state fuses and they are just perfectly in the zone and completely focused,” Beasley described. “After completing everything, I came out of it with a little bit of an adrenaline rush, thinking about the entire time my life was in danger, but our team handled it.”
Due to the wide variety of IED tactics enemies use, Carvajal said they stay at the top of their game by taking each of their mission requirements and dedicating a month of training on a requirement.
“We deal with anything that has an explosive hazard,” said Carvajal. “Going from a grenade all the way to nuclear bombs and weapons of mass destruction.”
Their training is split into learning a specific scenario in class, making a solution and then using it during field applications.
“Most overseas bases specialize in training day-to-day so we can be deployment ready,” said Carvajal. “It enables us to keep this area stable by projecting a sense of power. We provide off-base support and respond to civil authorities like the Japanese police department.”
Carvajal said even though EOD takes care of the calls they do receive, the community must be sure to do their part as well.
“Stay vigilant,” Beasley said. “If something you see is there and it does not make sense, contact the 35th Security Forces Squadron and they will contact us to handle the situation.”