SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – Most Air Force members know that Explosive Ordnance Disposal troops are the MacGyvers of the force, defusing bombs and other explosive scenarios. Less well understood, however, are the Command-level policy-makers who enable these highly skilled EOD professionals to accomplish their important missions around the world. This command-level cadre is found in the command Readiness and Emergency Management office at Headquarters Air Mobility Command here.
“In this day and age of [improvised explosive devices] and homemade bombs,” said Tommy Ishmael, AMC EOD Program Analyst, “It is our job to ensure AMCs EOD teams are trained and equipped properly so they can accomplish the mission and return home safely.
“We ensure the manning, equipping and training for the EOD teams. We buy all of their equipment for them,” said Ishmael. “We ensure they know how to use it and that it gets to the troops on time and in working order.”
The AMC Readiness and Emergency team is multi-faceted and also establishes the proper rank structures for the EOD teams to make sure they can execute the mission and the experience picture matches the commander’s intent on the ground.
“What a disaster that would be, for instance, if [the commander] asks for EOD support and we send him five 3-levels,” said Ishmael. “Not a good picture.”
An additional responsibility of this team is to enable secret service support. According to Ishmael, with the campaign season in full swing right now, they are providing a lot of AMC EOD support for the President, Vice President and candidates as necessary.
“It wasn’t long ago we tasked one of our teams to support the President of Israel,” said Ishmael. “It’s pretty cool because the units out there not only fly out and support the fighters and strategic aircraft, they come back and they have to take care of the President, the Vice President.”
Low manning and frequent deployment are a constant challenge. Capt. Kyle Kruger the deputy division chief of Readiness and Emergency Management at AMC, said they are having to use staff sergeants to fill roles historically held by a senior NCO.
“We were also running into situations when a staff sergeant would show up to an IED response on base and the incident commanders look at the guy and say, ‘You’re a Staff Sgt. and I am going to turn everything over to you to manage this explosive situation?’” said Kruger.
Their solution was to bring in contractors to help with scenarios like this and to provide continuity for the flights.
Creative solutions to far-reaching problems within the EOD career field are ultimately what they are accomplishing on a day-to-day basis.
According to Ishmael, all EOD troops, whether at the wing or command level, are enabling global reach by ensuring the safety of aircraft; securing air bases, infrastructure, pipelines, fuels, landing ramps, taxiing ramps, active surfaces; and defusing many explosive scenarios.