CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina -- Thick gray smoke filled the air after the loud bang. But, don't worry; explosive ordnance disposal technicians actually produced the blast to make the area safer.
Marines from EOD Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, participated in their end of the year field training exercise Dec. 8-17, 2014, aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, combining everything they've learned throughout the year into one final exercise. EOD techs practiced dealing with mock-improvised explosive devises, unexploded ordnance, and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear explosives.
The scenarios practiced during the field training exercise have taken place throughout history. According to The Washington Post, IEDs caused over 2,500 deaths to U.S. military members in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. EOD Marines know that maintaining readiness through training can help to save lives and make the battlefield a safer place.
"I want my team to know that the threat is absolutely 110 percent real, so we need to master the techniques and procedures we're applying to the training," said Staff Sgt. Jorge Rivero, an EOD technician with the unit and Miami native. "Every time you take care of an IED, you're potentially saving a Marine's life and I think that's very rewarding."
Marines with EOD Co. combined efforts with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion to practice route clearance missions during the field training exercise. The 2nd CEB Marines provided equipment such as the Husky, which has ground penetrating radar to detect buried IEDs, and the Buffalo, which has a robotic arm and claw that assists in proper IED detection. Technicians with EOD used equipment like the Talon robotics platform, a robot that allows Marines to dispose of IEDs from a more remote location.
The two units worked together to clear a route of simulated, hidden IEDs at training area GE on base. The technicians also practiced proper ordnance disposal at the Home Station Training Lanes and EOD site 3.
No matter where the training took place, Marines understood their goal in proper ordnance disposal: Providing a safer environment.
"We give people the freedom to move around the battle space," said Master Sgt. Daniel Bogart, an EOD technician with the unit and a Midland, Texas native. "Our only goal is to keep people safe."
The hard work and dedication of the Marines during the final field training exercise of the year has given them faith in their readiness to answer to any call.
"We can say that we're ready for virtually any mission out there," said Bogart. "There's nothing that this company is not prepared for at this point in time."