EOD tip of the spear in WMD exercise

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Mark Olsen
  • 177th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
In the Air Force, the only times Airmen are continuously in harm's way are when they are deployed to a combat zone.

That is not the case for Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams.

Whether they are clearing roadside bombs in Afghanistan or responding to a request from local authorities who have found World War II ordnance on a beach, to responding to terrorist devices of mass destruction, this is a career field that can be in harm's way regardless of whether they are deployed or not.

This concept was reinforced during a training exercise held at the 177th Fighter Wing on June 6 when EOD technician Tech. Sgt. David Niedzwiadek was sent in ahead of the strike team made up of Soldiers and Airmen of the 21st Civil Support Team (Weapons of Mass Destruction), New Jersey National Guard, to check and clear a trailer potentially laced with booby traps.

"The EOD tech was clearing any possible ordnance as we were clearing any CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high‐explosive) threat," said Maj. Scott Hofstetter, deputy commander, 21st CST (WMD).

The EOD Airmen worked with the 21st CST, South Jersey Transit Authority firefighters and New Jersey State Police in responding to a simulated weapons of mass destruction incident at the Wing.

"Training with 21st CST was quite a benefit for future incidents that may arise," said Senior Master Sgt. Ed Nickel Explosive Ordnance Disposal non-commissioned officer in charge.

"We send teams downrange to interrogate the scene, take samples of any type of CBRNE," said Hofstetter. "We can bring it out, analyze it and give civil authorities very fast results on what was found."

The 21st CST supports civil authorities by responding to a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) situation. The unit is made up of full-time New Jersey Army and Air National Guard members that have been trained and equipped to provide support to civil authorities at a domestic CBRNE incident site by identifying CBRNE agents/substances, assessing current and projected consequences and advising on response measures and assisting with appropriate requests for state support.

"We were able to integrate our equipment together," said Nickel. "We were able to transport their detectors downrange without actually sending their people into the hot zone, which is a great benefit for them."