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EOD: “Playing a game of chess for keeps”

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Luke Kitterman
  • 27th SOW Public Affairs

The 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight performed counter improvised explosive device training at MAFR, Sept. 28, 2016.

The EOD flight members encountered possible situations they might face while deployed including different types of IEDs and interaction with local nationals.

“This training simulates something we would be doing in Afghanistan or Iraq,” said Master Sgt. Jeremy Phillips, 27th SOCES EOD flight chief. “Not only are we practicing disposal techniques, we are also having our guys learn how to build a relationship with the host populace which can be extremely beneficial when gathering critical information of the area.”

Phillips, along with other experienced EOD members, demonstrated techniques and tactical ways of thinking during different scenarios for the younger, less experienced members to observe. According to Phillips, this passing of knowledge is priceless, helping members be better prepared in comparison to Phillips’ readiness at the time of his first deployment.

“Whenever the IED started to become more prevalent in the early 2000’s, a lot of us younger members were unprepared,” Phillips said. “We were in over our heads and making it up as we go. The primary purpose of this training was to pass on the years of personal IED experience to the younger members that we old guys have learned over time, so that the knowledge doesn’t get lost.”

According to USA Today, close to two thirds of Americans killed or wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan have been victims of IEDs. That’s roughly 3,100 deaths and 33, 000 wounded since 2003.

Knowing these statistics, Phillips stressed the importance of remembering the reality of the job.   

“I like to equate this job as playing a game of chess for keeps,” Phillips said. “We don’t like losing, that’s our mentality. We analyze situations and try to capitalize on anything that will give us the advantage and make the odds bend in our favor. It is all calculated risk. I emphasize calculated because nothing that we do is ‘winging-it’ or ‘cowboy.’ There is a lot of premeditated thought that goes into everything from small body movements to where we scan our eyes.”