NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION --
In May 2016, three members from the 914th Airlift Wing Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squadron attended a weeklong training event in Oriskany, NY.
The event, known as the Ravens Challenge, is a multi-day, inter-agency, improvised explosive device training scenario. What is unique about this event is that it brings both military EOD units and civilian bomb squads together to exchange tactics, techniques, and procedures.
The actual training consisted of seven stateside IED scenarios. These ranged from active shooter scenarios involving pipe bombs to complexly booby-trapped houses and cars.
34 EOD and civilian bomb squad u its attended this event and were split into 17 teams. Each team comprised of one military EOD unit and one civilian bomb squad unit.
Participating EOD units included U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Marines, and even a Canadian team. Civilian units included Erie County Bomb Squad, N.J. State Bomb Squad, and the New York Police Department Bomb Squad amongst others.
“Our EOD team was lucky to be able to work side-by-side with the Erie County Bomb Squad all week on numerous incidents,” said Senior Master Sgt. Keith Hartloff, EOD Superintendent, 914th Civil Engineer Squadron. “This helps to continue the trust and familiarity that we have fostered with each other.”
The two units have worked together previously on several real-world incidents said Tech Sgt. Adam Clement, EOD team leader, 914 CES. Clement said that this was beneficial as the teams didn’t require a “break-in” period where they needed to familiarize themselves with each other’s capabilities.
Additionally, the 914 AW EOD unit was able to showcase unique pieces of equipment and tactics that aren’t available on the civilian side.
Hartloff said that he is confident that the Eric County Bomb Squad will contact them in the future to assist in off-base responses because of what was displayed at the Ravens Challenge.
“The Ravens Challenge is the premier EOD training event in the country,” said Clement. “There really is nothing like it—to have hundreds of current and former EOD and civilian bomb technicians come together to train is instrumental in ensuring our mission is completed consistently and effectively.”
The Ravens Challenge is an annual event that takes place in several locations around the country. This was the second year that it was held in Oriskany and its tents overall year in operation.