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EOD Airmen build skills during Exercise Audacious Warrior at Fort McCoy

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Story by Scott Sturkol on 07/13/2017
Any time someone puts their life on the line to defuse a bomb or an explosive device it can be considered a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks, which is one definition of "audacious."

"That's why I thought Exercise Audacious Warrior was the perfect name for our exercise (at Fort McCoy)," said Chief Master Sgt. Edward Smith with the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Flight at Madison.

Smith serves as an EOD program chief for EOD Air National Guard Airmen across the country. He and his unit, along with the Fort McCoy Counter Improvised Explosive Device/Asymmetric Warfare Team, trained 25 EOD Airmen for two weeks in late June during Exercise Audacious Warrior.

The training took place at both Fort McCoy and Volk Field.

"This is an exercise that allowed them more hands-on training with the tools of their trade," Smith said. "At Fort McCoy, with the support of the (Improvised Explosive Device/Asymmetric Warfare Team) and the spaces available, we are able to add more realism to give these EOD Airmen the kind of training they need to stay on the cutting edge of readiness for future responses."

The Airmen came from Air National Guard units from across America.

"Bringing all these Airmen together here to train really provides an excellent opportunity for them to share ideas and information," said Senior Master Sgt. Gilbert Holcomb, 115th EOD Flight superintendent. "In a career field as small as ours, sharing the (tactics, techniques, and procedures) that are successful is crucial to ensuring everyone's success."

Nic Casey, associate and site lead/exercise planner with contractor Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. on the Counter Improvised Explosive Device (IED)/Asymmetric Warfare Team, said his team worked with the 115th to have many training aids available for the Airmen, and they developed scenarios that needed problem-solving techniques to complete missions.

"Our team provided many training items that allowed the (EOD Airmen) to use most of the tools they have, which adds to the realism," Casey said.

Throughout the training, the EOD Airmen completed scenarios in convoy operations, populated area responses for IEDs, and more.

"This was not an inspection for these Airmen; it was an exercise to allow them to improve their abilities and learn from each other," Smith said.
"They also used the simulation training available at Fort McCoy, completed land-navigation and combatives training, and held active-shooter drills."

Smith said the training wouldn't have been the same without the support of the Counter Improvised Explosive Device/Asymmetric Warfare Team.

"Every time we come here, Nic and his team help us drive better scenarios that build the skills of our Airmen," Smith said. "In our business, better skills can save lives."

The Counter Improvised Explosive Device/Asymmetric Warfare Team was established at Fort McCoy in spring 2014 through a contract by the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security to prepare service members for asymmetric threats.

"Our ultimate goal is to help with (service member) survivability when they are deployed," Casey said. "We provide that unique training that can be customized to any region of the world to meet any unit's training requirements and more."

Staff Sgt. John Tourtelloutte with the 104th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD Flight at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, Mass., said he appreciated the opportunity to train at Fort McCoy.

"We've certainly learned a lot in our time training in (this exercise)," Tourtelloutte said.

Smith said they will continue to plan "audacious" training like this in the future at the installation.

"We like coming to Fort McCoy because all the training areas allow for us to be creative and practice so many different types of training," Smith said. "Plus, the support we get to do this training is exceptional."

Fort McCoy has supported America's armed forces since 1909. The installation's motto is to be the "Total Force Training Center." The post's varied terrain, state-of-the-art ranges, new as well as renovated facilities, and extensive support infrastructure, combine to provide military personnel with an environment in which to develop and sustain the skills necessary for mission success.

Learn more about Fort McCoy online at, on Facebook by searching "ftmccoy," and on Twitter by searching "usagmccoy."

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