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EOD clears bombing range
Air Force and Marine Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel using all-terrain vehicles' span out to cover more ground on the Yukon training area on the Joint Pacific Alaskan Range Complex May 14, 2009, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The 354th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD shop, with the help of 60th EOD, Travis Air Force Base, Cali., 509th EOD Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., and Marines from the 1st EOD Company, Camp Pendleton, Cali., clear 10,000 acres of land of hazardous inert and live ordnance. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Jonathan Snyder)
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Joint EOD team clears bombing range

Posted 5/19/2009   Updated 5/20/2009 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Jonathan Snyder
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/19/2009 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Once a year, 10,000 acres of land on the Joint Pacific Alaskan Range Complex Yukon training area must be cleared of old ordnance and munitions. If this task is not accomplished, any old unexploded ordnance and munitions on the range could cause a sympathetic detonation creating an unsafe environment for pilots during their training missions.

Last year the 354th Fighter Wing spent over $1 million on a contracted team to clear ordnance and munitions on the JPARC Yukon training area. Noticing the potential to save money, the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight was determined to do this same task for only $100,000-- saving Eielson and the Air Force money. 

"Our mission is to remove hazardous ordnance and munitions residue from bombing and gunnery ranges," said Tech. Sgt. Heath Tempel, 354th CES EOD, "which allows target maintenance personnel to perform upkeep and reorganize target arrays." 

The JPARC provides 67,000 square miles of airspace containing one conventional bombing range and two tactical bombing ranges. The range also contains more than 400 different types of targets and more than 30 threat simulators, both manned and unmanned. The size of the JPARC enables the military to have the largest air-ground training complex in America. 

"The bottom line for clearing the range is to keep our pilots well trained," said Sergeant Tempel. 

The JPARC is utilized year round to support RED FLAG-Alaska, Northern Edge exercises when conducted as well as Eielson and Elmendorf Air Force Base routine training missions for F-16 Aggressors, F-15 Eagles and F-22 Raptors dropping inert and live ordnances on the range. 

The path to get to these targets is narrow, steep and at the bottom is a rugged soft tundra terrain. To overcome this obstacle, EOD personnel use a Small Unit Support Vehicle and all-terrain vehicles gaining access to the target areas. They then walk within close proximity around each target by foot looking for inert or live ordnance and the remaining personnel will search the land further away from the targets using ATVs' to cover more land quicker. All inert ordnance is collected while any live ordnance is flagged and will require onsite detonation. 

"This opportunity provides the necessary training on an active bombing range for our new Airmen to fulfill their five and seven level upgrade training requirement before a deployment," said Senior Master Sgt. Albert Schneider, 354th CES EOD flight chief.

The window of opportunity to accomplish this task is small between major exercises conducted on the range and with current Air Force operation tempo of deploying EOD Airmen to support overseas contingency operations. This leaves EOD manning as a limited resource to complete this project within a little over a month. To meet this short fall Eielson EOD requested aid from the 60th EOD, Travis Air Force Base, Cali., 509th EOD Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., and Marines from the 1st EOD Company, Camp Pendleton, Cali. -- making this a joint effort mission which is not uncommon downrange. 

"Since the EOD career field shares the same technical school and occupational badge for all four services, we knew they would arrive well trained and ready to jump in," said Sergeant Tempel.

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