Military News

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Operation Llama Fury: Joint base training aims to standardize AFSC

by Senior Airman Brittain Crolley
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


9/9/2015 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C.  -- Explosive ordnance disposal Airmen from three bases descended upon Seymour Johnson Air Force Base for a training exercise, Aug. 24-28.

Teams from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Moody and Andrews Air Force Bases participated in Operation Llama Fury, where teams competed against each other to promote cohesion and standardization across the EOD career field.

"This was a training opportunity for us to try to standardize the way we do things as EOD techs," said Master Sgt. Tracy Passerotti, 4th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD flight noncommissioned officer in charge. "It gave us a chance to work on a lot of our training fundamentals as well as teamwork and crosstalk for the different EOD flights attending."

The exercise began much as it would in a deployed environment, where EOD units from multiple bases are teamed together to form a unit downrange. The teams conducted a quick meet and greet, went over safety procedures specific to the base's facilities, and discussed the strategy for the week ahead.

The 4th CES EOD unit also provided the EOD teams with F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft weapons familiarization training.

"When you're sourced for a deployment, you may go and support aircraft you have never seen before," Passerotti explained. "So what we're trying to do by bringing all these other units in is give them a chance to actually get their hands on the jet and train with some of its munitions configurations."

Instead of getting spun up through books and diagrams, the EOD Airmen were given firsthand training by the 4th CES EOD team.

The three-man EOD teams trained and exercised on a multitude of scenarios, including responding to improvised explosive device and unexploded ordnance threats, practicing basic demolition techniques and reacting to F-15E munitions emergencies.

The Airmen were given general guidance on each setup but relied upon past experiences and training to choose the best methods to complete each task.

"EOD is unique in that no two responses are ever the same," Passerotti said. "You could give 10 teams a scenario, and you're going to see 10 different ways of getting it done. What's great about that is you get out of your own mindset of how things have to be done and see a different perspective that can help you down the road."

The EOD teams competed in four daytime challenges to earn the best gear for the nighttime operations.

With night-vision goggles and flashlights ready the teams set out on a trek across the EOD training range to put their knowledge and skillsets to the ultimate test.

The exercise culminated with the EOD teams applying the training received during the week to compete against each other to see who could accomplish a concluding set of scenarios in the most efficient and safest manner possible.

Even though the Seymour Johnson team won the final challenge, the competition was beneficial to all participants

"The training we're getting here is exceptional," said Airman 1st Class Josh Holbrook, EOD technician 11th CES, Joint Base Andrew. "Everything is real, and we're doing it by the book -- how it's going to be if we encounter it in person. I'm just finishing upgrade training and getting into my five-level certifications, so this [training] is going to help me get signed off on the majority of the things I have left."

Master Sgt. Roger Hughes, 4th CES EOD logistics chief, said he hopes the event's success leads to it becoming an annual event held at other bases to expose the Airmen to different facilities and training ranges and further standardize training.

"Training opportunities like this can be hard to come by, so we take advantage of them whenever we can," Hughes said. "That way, we can operate in a safer manner so that we can not only protect the surrounding area, but we can also protect ourselves."

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