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NEWS | Dec. 13, 2023

JBSA Explosive Ordnance Disposal holds inaugural Joint Field Training Exercise

By Jarrod Vickers 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Joint Base San Antonio’s 902nd Civil Engineer Squadron and 433rd CES held the inaugural 2023 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Texas Regional Field Training Exercise late last month at JBSA-Camp Bullis with members from Dyess Air Force Base’s 7th CES and Barksdale AFB’s 2nd CES.

“We were talking about the need to have quality assurance guys trained up,” said Tech. Sgt. Caine Nielsen, 902nd CES EOD quality assurance noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “We had been relying on the ‘Team of the Year’ competition within the career field to accomplish that training. Since it was over for this year, we wanted to make sure we could continue training. We saw a need and tried to fill that need locally.”

In order to meet that need, and the needs of all EOD members, 902nd CES developed a regional competition to train both EOD technicians and QA professionals alike. While most field training exercises are designed to push competitors in demanding situations, this competition was designed to challenge teams in real-world scenarios.

“We typically train in scenarios that are incredibly intricate and unforgiving,” explained Senior Airman Jakob Kornish, 902nd CES EOD technician. “The value [of this field training exercise] is the realness of what these calls can be. Being at JBSA-Camp Bullis, so far away from JBSA-Lackland, we don’t have everything we need. It creates that environment where you have to be efficient with the tools we have.”

The four teams from JBSA-Lackland, Dyess Air Force Base and Barksdale Air Force Base competed over the course of three days in several different scenarios across JBSA-Camp Bullis and JBSA-Kelly Field Annex.

“Working with different units has been great,” Kornish said. “Here at JBSA-Lackland, we have an artillery range. What we focus on is very specific. Some people focus solely on aircraft. Others focus on odd things like cannonballs. You get a taste of everything and we’ll come together and share stories on how we took care of things.”

Each training scenario could have several possible solutions. Teams were forced to use their experience and creativity to work through complex situations, in addition to working in inclement weather during the exercise.

“I think the teams did well, given the scenarios,” said Nielsen. “We got a lot of really good feedback from the teams and from the QA course. It was a good learning experience for us, as well. Being in a non-permissive environment, teams were facing time constraints and finding out how they could be more efficient in their processes.”

Nielsen hopes this is the first of many annual regional field training exercises, and the team at 902nd CES is already in the beginning stages of planning next year’s event.