EOD Airmen diffuse problems one at a time

  • Published
  • By Tyler Hemstreet
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
In a war where the enemy is constantly changing tactics, Airmen from the 62nd Civil Engineer Squadron's Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight are on the front lines fighting to stay one step ahead.

Master Sgt. Everett Sisseck, 62nd CES EOD technician, recently returned from a deployment where he was part of a weapons intelligence team. The team consisted of Sergeant Sisseck, an Air Force Office of Special Investigations agent, two Army intelligence Soldiers and an Army tactical gunner. The team worked in support of a Marine Corps battalion, analyzing the damage of improvised explosive devices.

Combing each IED scene with a fine-toothed comb, the team's job was to try to determine who made the device, how it was placed and how it was detonated, Sergeant Sisseck said.

"We had the capability to do complete forensics, including dusting for fingerprints," he said.

By gathering the wreckage and examining it for clues, the team would either dust it for fingerprints themselves or send the evidence to a lab at a forward operating base. Data analysis allowed the team to come up with lists of suspects.

"We're trying to roll up the bad guys and try them in Iraqi courts," Sergeant Sisseck said.

Airmen working on EOD teams in deployed locations are excited to be doing it for real after all the years of training, said Tech. Sgt. Douglas Jones, 62nd CES, who recently returned from deployment.

"Our career field is 10 steps ahead of where we were when the war started because our guys are out there getting experience," he said. "The real thing is where the experience is."

However, the experience doesn't come without challenges, he said.

"Just as we become more successful in defeating each device, the enemy will counteract," Sergeant Jones said.

That could mean encasing explosives in concrete so EOD teams can't get to them or burying them in the road, he said. The teams also have to face the dangers of the enemy setting secondary devices near the first device.

"You're always looking for another device out there," Sergeant Sisseck said. "It's a changing battlefield. [The enemy] has become better at what they do."

But the constant cat-and-mouse game has also forced the EOD career field to broaden, he said. 

"It's exponentially increasing our capabilities," Sergeant Sisseck said. "It's helping us better respond to the threats."

The battle to neutralize the constant threat IEDs pose each day also provides several opportunities for those who are deployed to see the impact of what they do.

"Keeping the roads safer out there makes it easy to see that we were making a difference," Sergeant Jones said. "After you remove a device, you can say to yourself, 'I probably saved lives here today.'"