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YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. (Sept. 10, 2020) – The 319th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company of the Washington Army National Guard recently wrapped up two months of training at Yakima Training Center and are preparing for an upcoming deployment.

“I’m just so grateful that we’ve had the opportunity to do all this training,” said Sgt. Roberta Brown, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team member.

The 319th is the first in the state to utilize Tier One Group training, which is a specialized training facility and contractor out of Arkansas.

At the Tier One Group facility, the 319th received training for shooting, shoot and move, extensive first aid, breaching and a culminating close quarters combat training event.

“This training is especially important since the last few EOD tech fatalities have been due to small arms fire, as opposed to explosives,” said Capt. Justin Bowen, Commander of the 319th EOD Company. “We combined our road to war traditional training with the training suggested on our predecessors after action reviews to be able to support the missions overseas, since the units have experienced more than conventional EOD missions.”

The feedback received from the soldiers on their training at Tier One Group was not only positive, but instilled confidence in the team members on skills they would not normally have.

“We got to do some really great medical training, probably the most realistic medical training I have ever had,” Brown said. “I could save a life. I mean I’ve never felt like that after doing medical training before.”

The company finished off their two-month long training cycle running traditional scenario lanes at the Yakima Training Center to utilize all the fundamentals and the new skills learned throughout the training.

Brown, new to EOD, enjoyed learning new skills outside of the schoolhouse.

“When you come out here, there is just so much more context added. Everything is just so much more scenario driven, rather than black and white rubric-based grading of the schoolhouse.”

The culminating event included vehicle-borne improvised explosive device lane, a known bomb making facility inspection and the company members favorite EOD activity, demolition. All these training activities are necessary to improve the soldier’s knowledge and survivability.

“The great thing about it is that we got the teams out of their comfort zone and pushed them to think outside the box. The support and understanding from our command have been fantastic and led to us being able to do these innovative training activities,” Bowen said.