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D-M and Luke EOD Airmen engage in joint training

Staff Sgt. Steven Dauck, 56th CES EOD team leader, unhooks a rope from a pressure plate IED Oct. 8 after a remote-remove procedure was completed. Dauck collected the pressure plate portion of the IED for evidence to attack the IED network. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

Staff Sgt. Steven Dauck, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team leader, unhooks a rope from a pressure plate improvised explosive device Oct. 8 after a remote-remove procedure was completed. Dauck collected the pressure plate portion of the IED for evidence in order to attack the IED network. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota/Released)

Staff Sgt. Steven Dauck, 56th CES EOD team leader, sweeps for a secondary explosive device Oct. 8 in front of a high-mobility multi-wheeled vehicle to ensure the road is clear of pressure plate improvised explosive devices. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

Staff Sgt. Steven Dauck, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team leader, sweeps for a secondary explosive device Oct. 8 in front of a high-mobility multi-wheeled vehicle to ensure the road is clear of pressure plate improvised explosive devices. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota/Released)

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Braving the elements and other tough situations can either make or break a warrior.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Airmen from Luke Air Force Base, Phoenix, and Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, worked together at the Barry M. Goldwater Range during war zone scenario training Oct. 7-10.

The exercise began with a UH-60 helicopter dropping off the newest EOD Airmen to the Gila Bend training range.

"The primary mission of Operation Enduring Training is to provide insight into a deployed setting for our newest Airmen," said Staff Sgt. Michael Garrison, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD training coordinator. "Many of these Airmen haven't been to a war zone, so we created an environment where they were able to participate and learn."

The first day at the range started off with a bang - literally.

With the teams working together, a main line of detonation cord branching off to 25 unique demolition shots was formed within 90 minutes. The ordnance used for this phase was semtex explosives, C-4 and basic sticks of dynamite set up for a wide range of explosive effects for learning purposes.

That afternoon, the six teams spent three hours doing transition drills and learning combat training techniques. Eight targets were set up on a mountainside at distances of 50 to 400 meters to gain real-world experience on the ballistic drop of the rounds fired.

Later in the night as the teams were resting for the next day of operations, a round of simulated ground bursts were thrown around the camp to disturb their sleep and simulate the type of stress they would receive in a war zone.

After a restless night, the teams awoke to pouring rain and began their operations without hesitation. Their operations consisted of scenarios that included a homemade explosives laboratory, a combat life-saving challenge, and a vehicle-born improvised explosive device challenge.

"During these ops, we focused on mounted operations," Garrison said. "Basically, the teams had to work from their vehicle, giving them more gear and options."

After the scenarios were completed the teams returned to camp to settle in and begin resting for the next fully loaded day of operations. But the silence and relaxation lasted only for a few moments before the next round of simulated ground bursts were thrown into camp.

Once the teams were awake, a few of the Airmen who were about to become team leaders were taken out for a night-time operations drill using night vision goggles.

"We hiked up a mountain toward the location where the simulated fire was coming from and found mounted rockets with suspicious characters around them," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Kim, 56th CES EOD technician. "The point of the exercise was to enhance team leader skills while gaining experience in clearing a suspected point of origin from an enemy attack."

During the last day of operations, the weather cleared up and gave the teams a morale boost. They hiked out and began their dismounted operations. At each location, the teams were given scenarios and items to use to assess each training mission. This time, each team had to work with what they could carry on their backs while dealing with a direction-focused fragmentation charged ordnance cache located in a cave on top of a mountain, as well as a command wire improvised explosive device and a booby-trapped IED.

After all the scenarios were completed, the six teams joined together and discussed the events of each day, sharing knowledge and techniques.

"Operation Enduring Training was extremely successful," said Staff Sgt. Stephen Alvarez, 56th CES EOD team leader. "Word on the street is that we provide the best and realistic training that our guys have gotten, and that goes from the most experienced Airmen all the way down to the least experienced. This type of training wouldn't have been possible without the Barry M. Goldwater Range. Their support made our training what it is today."