EOD Teams compete for the best in the Pacific

| August 3, 2017 | 0 Comments
Staff Sgt. Josh Estes, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team from 74th Ordnance Company, 303rd ORD Battalion, 8th Military Police Brigade, climbs down a culvert to examine an improvised explosive device during a 2017 United States Army Pacific Command Team of the Year Competition at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, July 29. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class John Delaine Brown, 8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs)

Staff Sgt. Josh Estes, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team from 74th Ordnance Company, 303rd ORD Battalion, 8th Military Police Brigade, climbs down a culvert to examine an improvised explosive device during a 2017 United States Army Pacific Command Team of the Year Competition at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, July 29. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class John Delaine Brown, 8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs)

Story and photos by
Sgt. 1st Class John Delaine Brown
8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — The ability to blend technical knowledge, speed, precision, discipline and patience while racing a clock and standing face to face with explosives … well, that’s a day in the life for an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team.

Every year, the best EOD teams in the Pacific meet at Schofield Barracks to compete in the U.S. Army-Pacific Command (USARPAC) EOD Team of the Year competition. This year’s competition saw teams from Alaska, Hawaii and the Republic of Korea.

“The competitors are special because they have been chosen to represent their units/region and compete to be the best in USARPAC,” said Sgt. 1st Class Justin Loban, a planning noncommissioned officer, 303rd Ordnance Battalion, 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command.

According to Loban, the planning for this year’s six-day competition was more than six months in the making.

“The tasks must be challenging because they have to cover the largest swath of EOD tasks possible, not just IEDs (improvised explosive devices), ordnance, CBRN (chemical/biological/radiological/nuclear) or basic Soldier tasks, but all of it in extreme detail,” he said.

Loban went on to explain that each of these tasks must be incredibly realistic in order to evoke the same level of response from the competing teams.

U.S. Army Pacific Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team of the year team members Staff Sgt. Sean A. Conley and Spc. Devan R. Hardman from the 65th Ordnance Company (EOD), Ft. Wainwright AK, negotiate an EOD training scenario during the annual competition on Schofield Barracks July 24-28. The event was hosted by the 303rd Ordnance Battalion, 8th Military Police Brigade and brought together the best teams from Hawaii, Alaska and the Republic of Korea. (Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class John Delaine Brown).

U.S. Army Pacific Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team of the year team members Staff Sgt. Sean A. Conley and Spc. Devan R. Hardman from the 65th Ordnance Company (EOD), Ft. Wainwright AK, negotiate an EOD training scenario during the annual competition on Schofield Barracks July 24-28. The event was hosted by the 303rd Ordnance Battalion, 8th Military Police Brigade and brought together the best teams from Hawaii, Alaska and the Republic of Korea. (Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class John Delaine Brown).

“Realism is extremely important,” said Loban. “If the construct that the team is operating inside of isn’t realistic, then they will possibly react in any number of unpredictable ways that are directly detrimental to training – simply because the scenario and training aids were not realistic.”

Examples of the realism involved in this year’s competition included the removal of ordnance from an AH-64 Apache helicopter and a round that was lodged in the barrel of an M198 155mmm Howitzer – both of which had to be completed in the middle of the night.

Staff Sgt. Josh Estes, an EOD team leader, 74th Ord. Co. (EOD), 303rd Ord. Bn., 8th MP Bde., said, “Competing in a competition like this means to me that I’m the best; it shows you that you really know the little details that make up the bigger picture.

“We cover such a wide range of responsibilities with our EOD mission, both stateside and deployed, and in order to fully understand that, competitions like this give you an opportunity to test that and build that confidence,” said Estes.

U.S. Army Pacific Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team of the year member Staff Sgt. Sean A. Conley from the 65th Ordnance Company (EOD), Ft. Wainwright AK negotiates an EOD training scenario during the annual competition on Schofield Barracks July 24-28. The event was hosted by the 303rd Ordnance Battalion, 8th Military Police Brigade and brought together the best teams from Hawaii, Alaska and the Republic of Korea. (Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class John Delaine Brown).

U.S. Army Pacific Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team of the year member Staff Sgt. Sean A. Conley from the 65th Ordnance Company (EOD), Ft. Wainwright AK negotiates an EOD training scenario during the annual competition on Schofield Barracks July 24-28. The event was hosted by the 303rd Ordnance Battalion, 8th Military Police Brigade and brought together the best teams from Hawaii, Alaska and the Republic of Korea. (Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class John Delaine Brown).

“During this competition, you learn a lot about yourself, your team, and you’re going to learn a lot about how much you know about this job,” Estes continued.

After six days of competition, the winners were announced at a ceremony on Schofield Barracks, July 28.

Staff Sgt. Sean Conley and Spc. Devan Hardman, an EOD team from the 65th Ord. Co. (EOD), Fort Wainwright, Fairbanks, Alaska, were proclaimed the best EOD team in the Pacific.

With a combined 21 years of military experience – eight in the EOD field, this was the first time Conley and Hardman had competed in a Team of the Year competition.

To prepare for the competition, the team modified their physical training regimen to include additional road marches, studied EOD publications and ran through a variety of training scenarios.

When asked why he chose the EOD career field, Conley said, “I like the idea that there’s a lot of time and effort that goes into the design and manufacture of ordnance. They cost quite a bit of money and are designed to detonate or hit a target somewhere, but they can be stopped by a guy that barely graduated high school in Ohio.

“There’s a malicious beauty to it. We are able to do a lot of stuff that people, not necessarily can’t do, but aren’t trained to do,” explained Conley.

Hardman said, “We put a lot of work into this, and it showed, so we will spend the next month or so getting ready for the DA TOY (Department of the Army Team of the Year) and keep training.”

The Department of the Army EOD Team of the Year competition takes place in September at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia.

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Category: Leadership, News, Observances

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