The Explosive Ordnance Disposal career field is one that poses retention challenges for the Air Force, despite the current weak economy. In Afghanistan alone, the Air Force has been covering almost half of the EOD missions, sustaining a high operations tempo that has acerbated retention problems in the field. Lt. Gen. Richard Newton, the service’s top personnel officer, told the House Armed Services military personnel panel on May 21, 2009, that the Air Force plans to continue seeking special pay and allowances to target critical war-fighting skills, such as EOD, combat search and rescue, combat control, and tactical air control party, as well as healthcare. Here, A1C Lyle Flagg, an EOD journeyman with the 99th Civil Engineer Squadron, fires a M-107 .50-caliber rifle during a standoff munitions disrupter (SMUD) exercise at Nellis AFB, Nev., April 9, 2009. Smudding is the practice of shooting improvised explosive devices with high-velocity rounds to detonate or destroy them, helping to reduce risks to convoys.