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Clock Adds Pressure in Fort Carson Bomb-Disposal Contest

Sgt. Stephen Moreno, explosive ordnance disposal specialist with the 71st Ordnance Group (EOD), adjusts the sights on his M4 carbine during a zeroing lane at Fort Carson, Colorado, June 12, 2017. (U.S. Army photo/Spc. Anthony Bryant)
Sgt. Stephen Moreno, explosive ordnance disposal specialist with the 71st Ordnance Group (EOD), adjusts the sights on his M4 carbine during a zeroing lane at Fort Carson, Colorado, June 12, 2017. (U.S. Army photo/Spc. Anthony Bryant)

Top Fort Carson bomb technicians competed Tuesday to earn bragging rights in an ordeal that organizers say could be worse than the nerve-wracking real thing.

The Fort Carson bomb experts were pitted against teams from bases around the region in a contest that will eventually lead to a final round in Virginia. But it's a long climb to victory.

"Because this is a competition, they have the added stress that there is a start time and there is a stop time," explained Master Sgt. John Bestall, with Fort Carson's 71st Ordnance Group. "Sometimes that causes some really bad decision-making processes; they get really focused in tunnel vision and they kind of lose their situational awareness of everything."

Four teams were put in scenarios based on real life.

One situation had teams dispose of chemical rockets that were launched at a simulated U.S. embassy. Another had them dealing with a car bomb, a popular weapon among insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They also had to beat the clock, not an easy task for bomb technicians who are used to taking their time in the delicate task to dismantling explosives.

"In the real world, you are on a clock at some point," Bestall said.

But rushing through just will not do in what is arguably the military's most careful profession.

Sgt. 1st Class Colin Bradshaw, an evaluator at the event, said the soldiers are being evaluated on how they handle each scenario.

Bomb-disposal troops in the competition methodically approached each hazard step by step. Bradshaw said the judges, too, were going by the book.

"I don't think they necessarily need to be worried on by the time," Bradshaw said. "I just think they need to focus on doing the most safe procedure that they can come up with at any given time and just being as thorough as possible."

The results of the competition weren't immediately available. But what it takes to win when it comes to defusing bombs was apparent.

"It pays to be correct," Bradshaw said.

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