Airmen from five Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams across the Air Force and members of Doña Ana County Police Department’s bomb squad gathered here for post-blast training, March 18-22, 2019.
Special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ National Center for Explosives Training and Research provided 40 hours of hands-on training covering the procedures to take after an explosion occurs.
“It is a crawl-walk-run methodology where we start with rudimentary information about explosives (like the) parts, pieces and components,” said Steve Wiley, ATF post-blast investigation training program manager. “We work through the week between PowerPoints and practical exercises where the students are actually able to work a bona fide post-blast scene at the conclusion of training.”
Airmen enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about explosives and the investigative roles that can be expected in specific scenarios.
“Overall, it was a good course to teach us how to identify a post-blast scene and how ATF or federal agencies would like (the process done) because (the military process is expeditious),” said Senior Airman Robert Frey, 49th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD technician. “Most of the time it is you get in and out, or you can only get so many things. This was a lot more detailed and in-depth, collecting a lot more evidence. It was a whole new aspect of post-blast investigations; I definitely like that and I haven’t had much training on it. Probably the biggest takeaway was how large-scale it became.”
From base to base, Airmen work diversely and at different rates. The class allowed them to become acquainted with how other EOD units work as well as with the civilians in local and federal law enforcement.
“It was definitely useful for us to be working with our brother agencies, not only working with other EOD flights but also law enforcement and federal law enforcement assets that do the exact same job we do, they have a more investigative role,” said Staff Sgt. James Jones, 49th CES EOD team leader.
“It’s nice to come together, as we may potentially in a large-scale event, and see how we all work together.”
The benefits of this course cannot be measured, and the comradery built was invaluable. Frey looks forward to taking more courses in the future, whether it be with the ATF or another agency.
“I definitely would like to (take another course), maybe even to further (this course),” said Frey. “An advanced post-blast course would be a good step from here because they definitely started from the basics and worked us towards a bigger scene. If we had the opportunity to do more large scale scenes, I think it would benefit everybody.”