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EOD kicks off advanced exploitation course

By Lance Cpl. Connor Hancock, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The first Advanced Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Ordnance Exploitation Course, hosted by the EOD Advanced Training Center, began at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., Nov. 30, 2015.

Eight select Marine EOD officers and enlisted members gathered from various Marine Corps installations to participate in the three-week course, covering professional military education and practical application missions designed to develop skills in ordnance exploitation.

“There are three basic techniques for exploitation: disassembly, stripping and inerting operations,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Dan Barker, staff noncommissioned officer in charge, Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School. “The overall intent behind the course is to set a standard for Marine EOD technicians to safely and efficiently exploit both foreign and domestic ordnance.”

Participants from a range of ranks, sergeant to lieutenant colonel, were selected based on their EOD experience level.

“EOD Marines have been exploiting ordnance since the early 1940s, but there has never been a particularly standardized process,” Barker said.

According to Barker, the course works to standardize the process throughout the Marine Corps.

“This formalized teaching of tools and procedures allows every unit in the fleet to be on the same page,” said Master Sgt. Erik Swanson, guest instructor, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif. “Marines can apply these methods and techniques to whatever they might encounter on the battlefield.”

One of the biggest challenges instructors expect for participants is the compressed timeline of the training.

“It’s a very complex set of skills; they’re expected to learn quickly,” Swanson said. “Each student studies explosive characteristics, exploitation, and completes an operational risk assessment for each piece of ordnance.”

Marines will work in teams of four and will be allotted a six-hour window during each day of the two-week practical application period.

“Our primary tool is a military fuze disassembly kit, which allows Marines to perform some processes remotely including taking apart fuses,” Swanson said. “We’ll also use X-ray radiographic systems to get a picture of the inside of the ordnance.”

The course is scheduled to conclude Dec. 18 and will challenge the technicians to their limits in precision and knowledge about EOD.

“We hope to instill the idea that they not only need to beat the item, but be safe in doing so and plan accordingly to meet the timeline,” Barker said.
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