Senior Airman Kyle Doran, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician with the 104th Fighter Wing, Massachusetts Air National Guard, operates an F6 Robot during the Audacious Warrior Exercise June 23, 2018, at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. The F6 was used to remotely check a suspicious item inside a building. 115th Fighter Wing Guard photo by Airman Cameron Lewis
VOLK FIELD, Wis. — The annual Audacious Warrior exercise, held June 18-28, drew 10 of the Air National Guard’s 17 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) units, along with two international participants.
EOD technicians from the 115th Fighter Wing, 104th Fighter Wing, 125th Fighter Wing, 148th Fighter Wing, 142nd Fighter Wing, 158th Fighter Wing, 147th Attack Wing, 155th Air Refueling Wing, 119th Wing, 166th Airlift Wing and two state partnership teams from Croatia and the Czech Republic took part in the two-week long intensive training.
Airman 1st Class Casey Philpot, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician with the 115th Fighter Wing in Truax Field, Wisconsin applies a pressure bandage to Staff Sgt. Nash Bauer, an EOD technician with the 115th FIGHTER WING, June 25, 2018, during the Audacious Warriors Self Aid Buddy Care training refresher. SABC encompasses basic life support and limb-saving techniques to help wounded or injured personnel survive in medical emergencies. 115th Fighter Wing photo by Airman Cameron Lewis
The training allowed EOD teams from across the country to gain vital training on conventional ordnances, aerospace systems, vehicles, counter improvised explosive devices and more that otherwise can’t be obtained during drill weekends.
Master Sgt. Jason Ganner, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal resources NCO, for the 142nd Fighter Wing, Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon, and Staff Sgt. Tyler Porter, an EOD technician with the 155th Air Refueling Wing, confirm the disruption of an explosive device and collect evidence June 23, 2018, at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin. Ganner and Porter are at Volk as part of the annual Audacious Warrior Exercise. 115th Fighter Wing photo by Airman Cameron Lewis
“Members come to us for two weeks straight and run exercises back-to-back,” said Senior Master Sgt. Gilbert Holcomb, the EOD superintendent at the 115th Fighter Wing. “This year each team averaged about 15 exercises, which is great considering most of them would be lucky to participate in six exercises at their home unit.”
Senior Airman Alec Camp, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician with the 142nd Fighter Wing, Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon, disrupts a possible explosive train June 22, 2018, during a training exercise on Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. The exercise, known as Audacious Warrior, provides EOD Airmen with required training over the course of two weeks. 115th Fighter Wing photo by Airman Cameron Lewis
Having so many units involved allows for enhanced interoperability and in depth feedback from outside observers, said Scott South, a counter IED training analyst with Booz Allen Hamilton and instructor for Audacious Warrior.
A team of Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians work their way through a land navigation course June 25, 2018, at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. The course allowed Airmen to practice their skills in map reading, compass use, and pace counting. 115th Fighter Wing photo by Airman Cameron Lewis
“The great thing about unit cross-training is that it allows us to see what tools other units are operating with and how they use specific tools that are shared Air Force wide,” said Master Sgt. Jason Ganner, the 142nd EOD resources NCO.
Having a variety of people and training scenarios, and working back-to-back for days on end helps give the feeling of being in a deployed environment.
Senior Airman Ethan Johnson, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician with the 119th Wing in Hector Field, North Dakota, plans his teams route June 25, 2018, for the Audacious Warrior land navigation compass course at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. The course allowed Airmen to practice their skills in map reading, compass use, and pace counting. 115th Fighter Wing photo by Airman Cameron Lewis
“That’s one of the things that makes this training different from all the others, said Staff Sgt. Nash Bauer, an EOD technician with the 115th. “We’re able to conduct a wide array of training from conventional ordnances, to IED training, to basic skill sets such as land navigations, team tactics, and deployment operations.”
An Airman taking part in the Audacious Warrior Exercise throws a smoke grenade during a tactical training June 28, 2018, on Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. Airmen were split into two teams and used tactical techniques to reach a goal while training with simulated munitions. 115th Fighter Wing photo by Airman Cameron Lewis
The Audacious Warrior Exercise has continually grown since it began in 2012, and exercise coordinators aim to improve and provide better training each year.
“For future years we really just want to get the teams what they need to be better prepared for a real scenario,” Holcomb said. “Whether that be providing tactical vehicles, air support, better training aids and exercises, field services, or more involvement from the remaining seven Air National Guard EOD units.”