EOD technicians protect the installation and its resources from potential explosives by neutralizing ordnance. They also defuse improvised explosive devices, and provide protection for the president, vice president, and dignitaries from explosive ordnance threats.
EOD is critical in keeping runways clear of ordnance, so aircraft can operate, said Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Sursely, 446th CES EOD superintendent. Specialists are also essential for keeping base communications open. Only EOD and civil engineers can authorize base operations after an attack.
New candidates must complete a seven-month program (non-prior service applicants must also fulfill Air Force Basic Military Training requirements), where they're trained in basic ordnance, demolition procedures, bomb suit functions, fuse specifics, tools and methods, and reconnaissance and ground munitions.
"If you graduate from the EOD school, you've proved you're intelligent, tough, determined, and have incredible common sense, and mechanical skills," Sursely said.
Applicants must be willing to travel on short notice, and work in austere environments.
Downrange, EOD keeps supply routes open, and provides reconnaissance in order to counteract the opposition's IED networks, said Sursely, who earned a Bronze Star Medal for his actions from a deployment.
Applicants must be able to work on a team.
The career field facilitates teamwork, said Master Sgt. Glen Tuttle, 446th CES EOD program manager who's been a technician since 1992. Specialists have to rely on each other, especially down range, to accomplish missions safely.
Everyone has a role, and it only takes one person to make a fatal mistake, said Sursely, an EOD technician since 1996. Every one's input to solving a problem is taken seriously, whether they're a senior airman or a chief master sergeant. "There have been numerous occasions when a junior member of my team pointed out a safety (issue) I hadn't considered."
Tuttle added that EOD specialists also support coalition forces down range, and assist local, state, and federal agencies in the U.S.
Sursely said EOD is a challenging, yet gratifying field.
"It was one of the hardest things I've done, and one of the most rewarding accomplishments. I felt EOD would provide the challenges I was looking for - I was right."
Handle live explosives on a daily basis
Detect, identify, render safe, recover and dispose of explosives and ordnance that are unsafe, including conventional military ordnance, criminal and terrorist homemade items and chemical, biological and nuclear weapons
Work on the flight line during aircraft emergencies, on bombing ranges during range clearances, in munitions storage areas, in accident areas and in any other area or climate where an explosive hazard exists
Maintain equipment, technical data and vehicles
Analyze unknown munitions and explosives for exploitation and use by the intelligence agencies
New recruits and service members looking for a new experience are eligible for a $20,000 bonus. Potential candidates can get more information on the career field by calling the 446th Airlift Wing Recruiting Office at (253) 982-3501.