ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
Special Agents from the FBI trained with 28th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordinance Disposal Airmen and other law enforcement agencies during a National Improvised Explosive Familiarization course at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., July 11 to 13.
The FBI-led, joint exercise focused on homemade explosives, or HMEs, and instructing bomb technicians on how to recognize them.
“HMEs are the new age now,” said Master Sgt. Carlos Sanchez, the section chief assigned to the 28th CES EOD flight. “You can’t find readily available military explosives just lying on the ground, so terrorists are learning how to take easy-to-get components, put them together, and create an explosive compound. This training allows the bomb techs to learn what the terrorists are doing so they can see first-hand what it takes.”
Day one of the course involved classroom lectures where students were instructed by FBI Special Agent bomb technicians on how to recognize ingredients that can be used in an HME and how they react when mixed together. Days two and three brought the classroom to the field where students and instructors created HMEs and detonated them using blasting caps. EOD technicians, along with the rest of the class, were able to witness how each mixture exploded as the instructors from the bureau explained the science behind each one.
“They’re great,” Sanchez said. “This is my third time coming to this course and they’re teaching at a level that I’m still picking up stuff while the brand new Airmen are learning as well.”
By training together, Airmen are more prepared to work with the FBI in cases of emergency. Exercises like this ensure that several law enforcement agencies can be on the same page.
“We need to have continuity,” said the FBI Special Agent responsible for coordinating the NIEF exercise at Ellsworth. “It’s good for us to know the skills they have and what assets they have at their disposal, whether they have K-9s, robots or other technology.”
The NIEF course brings together federal and local law enforcement agencies to share their expertise while creating connections between the different organizations. In case of a real-world emergency, every agency can rely on each other to solve the crisis at hand.
“If I have an issue, I can pick up the phone,” the Special Agent said. “Likewise, if they have something where they need my assistance, I’m a phone call away.”
Sanchez, who has worked in the field with the FBI in the past, emphasizes the importance of continuously performing joint training, and hopes to see an increase of exercises like the NIEF course.
“There’s going to be more joint training,” Sanchez said. “Not just on the [improvised explosive device] side, but the nuclear, biological and chemical side as well. We want to be prepared for the next huge disaster that might happen. We train together so that if something were to happen, we all know what’s going on and how we’re going to integrate.”
As the course came to an end, participants began looking forward to working together in the future.
“It was a great experience,” said the Special Agent. “This has been a great opportunity for us. I definitely see [us having] more training exercises with them in the future.”