EOD training, GOLDEN CRAB, simulating deployment grows in its second year

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Frederick A. Brown
  • 9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

Some of the Air Force’s most dangerous missions are undertaken by Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) squads regardless of the hostilities and hazards of an unpredictable environment. Dangerous and ever evolving threats to people and property requires special skills and tools that are honed and mastered through challenging and realistic training.

Last year, Tech. Sgt. Aaron Haak, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD Team Leader, started a multi-day full environment immersed training for EOD at Travis Air Force Base known as Exercise GOLDEN CRAB. Haak had previously been an EOD instructor at a pre-deployment training site and realized the importance of bringing this type of training to regular wing life outside the deployed environment to both maintain and enhance the skills of EOD technicians.

“It’s a different type of training which allows them [EOD] to really immerse into a simulated deployed environment,” said Haak. “Even at home station, you never know when a local threat could emerge, or when you get orders for a deployment or temporary duty to a potentially hostile terrain.”

This year, Exercise GOLDEN CRAB expanded to include Beale AFB and Travis AFB and was held at Beale. EOD technicians stayed in tents ready to be called at moment’s notice to respond to threats such as improvised explosive devices or vehicle and even drone borne explosive devices, simulating a deployed environment.

“The toughest challenge was never knowing when we could be called, and always having ourselves and our gear ready at any time,” said Senior Airman Aaron Bowman, 9th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD disposal technician. “This experience has provided insight to what a deployment consists of. I’m now more ready for any situations stateside or on deployment that my team might face.”

Another unique aspect this training provides is the ability to take observer controllers with different backgrounds and ideas, to observe and critique teams from other bases. This, as well as different teams working together, creates an exchange opportunity for new ideas, solutions, tips, and tricks possible in a joint environment, that may not have been brought in during training at home base.

“Coming to Exercise GOLDEN CRAB has given me a chance to learn new tricks and procedures,” said Senior Airman Zane Exner, 812th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD technician from Edwards AFB. “I’ve tackled challenges using different viewpoints while working with EOD professionals from varying backgrounds”.

Starting from one base last year, to three this year, Haak is optimistic this yearly training will continue to grow and thinks Beale is a prime spot for an eventual large scale yearly readiness exercise focused on EOD operations.

“It’s a great training spot to host a large exercise,” said Haak. “It’s massive and has a lot of area for us to train in, but also has unique areas to simulate different environments ensuring we are ready to employ our skills in any terrain.”