Arizona Guard, civilian bomb squads train for domestic response

Arizona Guard, civilian bomb squads train for domestic response

Army Sgt. Benito Garcia, left, and Spc. Robert Ianello of the Arizona Army National Guard’s 363rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company investigate the contents of a shipping container during a training exercise, at the Florence Military Reservation June 26. The exercise, known as the Raven’s Challenge, brought federal, state, and local bomb squads together with military EOD units to train on improvised explosive device defeating tactics. (National Guard Photo by SPC. Wes Parrell)

FLORENCE, Ariz. – Members of the Arizona Army National Guard’s 363rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company participated in an interagency improvised explosive device training exercise at the Florence Military Reservation here June 25-27.

 

Known as Raven’s Challenge, bomb squads from federal, state, and local levels throughout the southwest partnered with military EOD units to train in the cooperative response to domestic explosive threats.

 

“As a National Guard EOD unit we have the unique opportunity to work with and support the local law enforcement bomb squads in our state,” said Army Staff Sgt. Ronald Heino, team leader with the 363rd. “To have an opportunity like this to train together and build a working rapport only builds on our ability to serve our community as a whole.”

 

The event was collectively designed by federal agencies such as the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the Department of Homeland Security. Each simulation focused on real world threats that challenged multi-agency teams to find unique solutions.

 

Scenarios included buried explosive caches, a bomb builder’s workshop, and baited-trap environments. Adding complexity to Raven’s Challenge, teams deployed to each site by helicopter, Humvee, and, in some cases, hiked in with just the equipment they could carry on their backs.

 

Garth Pirtle, bomb squad commander for the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office in New Mexico, traveled from Las Cruces to participate. “This event allows operators from all different levels and training background to be exposed to new tools and techniques. It gives us a chance to evolve our skill sets with the ever changing threats we face daily.”

 

Raven’s Challenge events, which have rotated around the country for eight years, were held this year in Phoenix; Seattle; Redstone Arsenal, Alabama; and Washington, D.C.