Explosive Readiness: Cold Weather Training Ensures EOD Preparedness

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Patrick Boyle
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

“Initial success or total failure” are the words that Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) lives by. These words highlight the severity of any mistake and the challenging nature of their field.

If an EOD technician performs at a level less than perfect, it can result in dire consequences. The importance of training cannot be stressed enough due to the unforgiving nature of the field. 35th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) EOD flight members recently hosted the HABU Exercise with EOD technicians from Misawa, Andersen, Kadena and Osan Air Bases participating. The goal was to familiarize technicians from more temperate climates with the frigid conditions in northern Japan from Jan. 23-26, 2024.

“This is the first time we’ve done a large-scale HABU exercise, bringing in flights from all over the Pacific Air Forces," said Staff Sgt. Dawson Hindman, 35th CES EOD training flight noncommissioned officer in charge. I want to keep this as an annual training event; there will always be new technicians coming into this field that need training, and HABU offers the most realistic training they can get.”

The HABU exercise lasted three days and nights, allowing EOD technicians to live and work in a simulated field environment. Technicians slept in Small Shelter Systems and participated in operations throughout both day and night, familiarizing them with their equipment and operating in low-light environments.

Throughout the 35 operations conducted during the exercise, technicians separated into six teams consisting of members from four different bases. This team construct encouraged technicians to learn to operate with unfamiliar individuals, highlighting the importance of cohesion and communication.

“Working with other bases helps with interoperability,” said Staff Sgt. Marcus Baisi, 51st CES EOD journeyman. “When you’re at home station for two or three years, it’s easy to become complacent. You don’t really get to see new ideas, but when new people expose us to new ideas, it’s beneficial because our job is all about flexibility and creativity.”






Placing technicians into various scenarios challenged them to lean upon one another, utilizing combined knowledge, practices, tactics, and procedures. Technicians faced numerous types of explosive devices, including Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), Unexploded Ordnance (UXOs), grenades and a variety of booby traps. EOD technicians need to be prepared for whatever obstacles they may encounter in an actual combat scenario, making this exercise all the more critical. Whenever EOD responds, it means lives are on the line. They must react quickly and carefully as they assess the situation, ensuring ultimate success and the preservation of life.

“When we respond to a UXO, we’ll get together with our team, assess the situation and put together a gameplan,” said Senior Airman Lequavious Lee, 35th CES EOD technician. “We’ll determine what we need, gather our tools and explosives and talk to whoever oversees the scene to get their idea of what’s happening. We’ll devise a plan from there, determining how to respond best and make it as safe as possible.”

Members conducted the HABU exercise with the primary goal of preparing EOD technicians for any threat that they may face. The myriad of scenarios technicians encountered throughout the exercise have better prepared them than anything a classroom setting could ever provide. EOD technicians must constantly hone their skills, ensuring they can deliver a flawless performance whenever they respond to a scene. Exercises like HABU ensure they can minimize risk by emphasizing preparedness and unit cohesion.


“What I want the Airmen to take away most from this exercise is to look out for one another,” said Hindman. “I want the team to advance themselves to the point where a situation that ends with someone hurt never happens. In an operational capacity, to me, that means being the best you can be because the true nightmare is it’s never just your life on the line.”