Explosively effective: EOD opens fire on new training range

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Courtney Dotson-Essett
  • 434th ARW Public Affairs

With jet engines, heavy construction equipment and a firing range, loud noises are not uncommon at Grissom but a recent addition to the base might also be making the windows rattle.

The unit recently opened its new high explosive training facility with an introductory first fire.

The EOD Unit, assigned to the 434th Civil Engineering Squadron, has multiple missions including: protecting the base against explosive devices; EOD response for military munitions in Indiana, Illinois and Michigan; and training, organizing and equipping deployable EOD technicians.

In order to execute those missions, EOD technicians have certain monthly qualifications to accomplish.

In the past, the unit would drive to Camp Atterbury, Indiana to accomplish high explosive training, eating up valuable training time.

The new range comes as tremendous benefit because that training can now be accomplished right here at Grissom.

“The immediate cost saving is travel,” said Senior Master Sgt. Scott Fleek, EOD superintendent. “Not just in the travel, but it’s a time savings.”

“There’s three-plus hours of work that needs to be done just to be able to use the range at Camp Atterbury,” he said. “That three hours is a time constraint on the traditional reservist that’s only here for two eight-hour days.”

That three hours only takes into account a one-way trip to the military training facility, located in South-Central Indiana. In total, Fleek said the trip is a six-hour investment for training that takes 30 minutes to accomplish.

Having a range here at Grissom allows the unit to train with high level explosives at home, such as detonation cords or TNT, more effectively meeting its training requirements. 

“If we didn’t have this range, they’d only be able to do this training with a smaller shotgun shell equivalent munition item,” said Fleek. “That doesn’t give them real-world handling of explosive training. You’ve got to have this capability at a base that has EOD.”

 “The training value that we’ve gotten out of it because we can just go out there and do it is night and day,” he said.

The training benefits don’t end with reservists, full time members routinely conduct weekly exercises as well.

“During the week, we also benefit from being able to train with high explosives,” Fleek said. “We can do specific knots with detonation cord or cratering charges that make holes in the ground.”

Another benefit to the new range is the impact it has had on the unit’s working relationship with local law enforcement.

“It allows us to do some joint training with civilian law enforcement here at Grissom now, and that’s something we couldn’t do before,” Fleek said.

Grissom’s EOD completes its mission with a combination of traditional reservists and active guard and reserve members. The unit has been fully operational at Grissom since 2014.

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. Men and women from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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