by Senior Airman Stephanie Serrano
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Airmen from the 19th Civil Engineer Squadron provide expertise in locating, identifying and neutralizing explosive devices on Little Rock Air Force Base and throughout the state of Arkansas and in some parts of Tennessee and Mississippi.
On average the EOD team responds to unexploded ordnance, or UXO, calls at least once every two weeks in different regions of the state. This type of mission requires EOD to work closely with law enforcement and fire department agencies.
“The partnerships we develop with the local and state bomb technicians as well as the FBI are important in ultimately saving lives,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel Werner, 19th Civil Engineer Squadron commander. “Each organization has its strengths and knowledge. Sharing tactics, techniques, procedures and the latest information on hazardous devices improves everyone’s ability to defeat the threats found.”
The FBI hosts a quarterly statewide meeting where law enforcement, fire departments and EOD train and discuss situations which arose within the quarter.
“The partnerships we have with local law enforcement and fire departments is honestly the best I’ve ever seen in my career,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Mark Stafford, 19th CES EOD team leader. “They are a tremendous help when it comes to giving us knowledge on what we are going to see when we arrive on site.”
When preparing for a mission, a team leader looks for as much information as possible so he and his team do not enter into a situation blind.
“It’s a lot of responsibility to be a team leader because you’re not only trying to reach your objective, but you also have to make sure that yourself and your guys are safe,” Stafford said.
At a minimum, EOD personnel train twice a week. This ensures each technician remains focused on the mission.
Attention to detail is paramount in the EOD career field and can mean the difference between life and death. This is where the EOD motto comes into play: Initial success or total failure.
“Our mission is obviously dangerous, so we take training very seriously and work extremely hard at being good at what we do,” Stafford said. “We know if we don’t succeed initially, then there’s that possibility that it could be the end of it. We always have to keep that in the back of our minds.”
With the help of law enforcement agencies and the fire department, EOD protects and safeguards Little Rock AFB, portions of Tennessee and Mississippi and the state of Arkansas.