FORT MCCOY, Wis. -- Ten of the 17 Air National Guard Explosive Ordnance Disposal units and two international partners participated in the annual Audacious Warrior Exercise here and at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin, June 18 – 28, 2018.
EOD technicians from the 115th Fighter Wing, 104th FW, 125th FW, 148th FW, 142nd FW, 158th FW, 147th Attack Wing, 155th Air Refueling Wing, 119th Wing, 166th Airlift Wing, and two state partnership teams from Croatia and the Czech Republic participated in the two-week long intensive training.
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.
“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.”
The Audacious Warrior Exercise has continually grown since it began in 2012 and will continue 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,” said Holcomb. “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.”