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Members of the Marine Wing Support Squadron 373 explosive ordnance disposal team build a structure for breach training at Camp Billy Machen in California, April 20, 2010. The team trained with breaching charges for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. The team stayed in Yuma due to the air station’s proximity to the ranges and to train with MWSS-371 and station EOD teams.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Aaron Diamant

Afghanistan veterans in Yuma train EOD teams

29 Apr 2010 | Lance Cpl. Aaron Diamant Marine Corps Air Station Yuma

Marine Wing Support Squadron 373’s explosive ordnance disposal team traveled from Miramar, Calif., to train with MWSS-371 and station EOD teams in Yuma, in preparation for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

During its time here, the team took advantage of MWSS-371’s relatively recent return from Afghanistan to gain valuable insight into the nature of a deployment to the country.

The team also trained in skills vital to its mission in Afghanistan mission such as advanced close-quarters battle marksmanship and breaching.

Normally, an EOD unit is stationed at a forward operating base and responds to calls needing EOD support in the area. However, while in Afghanistan, nearly 75 percent of MWSS-371’s EOD missions were in direct support of infantry units, illustrating the importance of the training MWSS-373 is receiving here. 

Master Gunnery Sgt. Carl Holden, MWSS-371 EOD staff noncommissioned officer in charge and a former CQB instructor for Marine Special Operations Command, taught the Marines the advanced rifle and pistol techniques he used to teach to force reconnaissance Marines.

“In Afghanistan, we’re embedded with grunts. So, we have to learn how to be infantrymen and need to refine infantry tactics,” said Holden. “We want to blend in and not be a liability.”

The teams often traveled to Camp Billy Machen in California, a desert training facility near the Chocolate Mountains, to use the large, mountainous ranges there for live-fire weapons and ordnance training due to their similarity to Afghanistan’s terrain.

There, the team trained in breaching buildings under the tutelage of Warrant Officer Kent Crawley, MWSS-373 EOD officer in charge.

The team practiced making various types of breaching charges, placing them on doors and buildings and the proper methods of setting off the charges safely, as well as clearing rooms after the breach.

“Breaching is about using the least amount of explosives to get the desired effect,” said Crawley.

Using the correct amount of explosives allows the breachers to remain closer to the area breached and get into the building faster using the element of surprise to their advantage, said Gunnery Sgt. Nathaniel Cosby, MWSS-373 EOD staff noncommissioned officer in charge.

Following the conclusion of their training in Yuma April 25, 2010, MWSS-373’s team hit the road for Albuquerque, N.M., to train with the city police department’s SWAT team for a week.

The team is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan later this year.

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