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USAF EOD Beret Nixed

Recently, the USAF Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) careerfield (AFSC 3E8X1) asked for a distinctive beret. Specifically, they selected Tan, which as most of us know was chosen for wear by US Army Rangers after their Black beret was given to Big Army. Probably not the best choice of beret but it isn’t already an AF beret color. Additionally, they requested recognition of a distinctive flash featuring the Red Bomb emblem first used by EOD in World War Two.

USAF EOD Beret Proposal

In October their request was denied by Air Force leadership. Specifically, the Air Force’s top Civil Engineer, Maj Gen Timothy Byers rejected the idea and he was understandably supported by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen Norty Schwartz. In a statement to EOD, Byers stated, “Ultimately, their superior training, absolute professionalism, unwavering dedication and joint EOD badge are the hallmarks which definitely set them apart.”

Currently, several careerfields wear berets.

CCT/STO – Scarlet
PJ/CRO – Maroon
TACP/ALO – Black
Weather Parachutists – Grey
Security Force – Blue
SERE Techs – Sage Green

It’s really been a helter skelter smattering of who has a beret and who doesn’t with more and more added over the years. In some cases the beret is worn by actual combat oriented AFSCs and in others only by certain members of careerfields. Additionally, the entire AF Security Forces careerfield wears a beret. Berets have often been considered a mark of the elite (despite the US Army’s decision to institutionalize the Black beret for all Soldiers). When you look at the list, the Air Force’s policy really doesn’t make much sense. For instance Air Force parachutists in careerfields other than those above do not wear a beret (although in many joint billets they do in spite of AF uniform regs) while non-parachutists in some AFSCs do wear them.

This is why the decision to deny an EOD beret makes no sense and there has been much gnashing of teeth on the internet over EOD and why they do or do not rate a beret. There are non-combat AFSCs in the mix already so that argument doesn’t hold water. Granted, a beret does not make the man, but by that argument no one should be wearing them. EOD is being asked to go above and beyond the call and on a regular basis.


USAF Photo

This is the second setback for a careerfield that has recently had to align themselves more as a combat force, based on actual deployed taskings, than the institutional force they have traditionally been. Last year, EOD asked to be declared part of the Battlefield Airman community along with Combat Control, Guardian Angel (PJ/CRO/SERE), TACP, and Combat Weather. Their bid was unsuccessful although they got a partial win.

EOD now has an enhanced indoc course for candidates and they will be required to pass a new EOD-specific PAST (Physical Ability and Stamina Test) test. Additionally, they will now be equipped through the Battlefield Airman Management System, a menu based supply program which was created in 2004 to consolidate and standardize the fielding of personal equipment for those in the Battlefield Airman community.

Both of these decisions are indicative of an Air Force leadership that continues to look at the world as they wish it was rather than how it actually is. Ten years into our nation’s longest conflict, it’s as if the Corporate Air Force refuses to accept that we are actually at war. EOD is completing combat taskings, embedded with Army units and this reality has touched virtually every facet of EOD. While bomb ranges are still supported, EOD Airmen have to learn a whole new set of tasks to survive under fire and neutralize IEDs. Some of EOD’s issues may be that they are part of CE (Civil Engineering) and the CE leadership may well prefer to have their EOD troops pulling range support rather than deployed, dealing with IEDs in a war zone. Wishing won’t make it go away. But then again, where do you put them if not CE?


USAF Photo

An additional issue for EOD may well be that they do not have any career officers. CE officers attend EOD school and command a flight but due to the structure of EOD there are no Squadrons or Groups to command. Officers move on to other CE duties. Other careerfields have opened up to officers such as CRO and career ALO and they are seeing a new emphasis. Perhaps EOD could do with the same.

Don’t get me wrong, EOD enjoys special pays, generous bonuses (due to low manning), higher physical fitness requirements, and access to BAMS. But, with all of this, it seems like they’ve got all of the responsibility of being “special” and none of the recognition. Maybe they don’t need a beret, but like we said earlier, decisions by Air Force leadership regarding EOD seem to display a lack of acceptance of reality. The war is going on. If anything, the IED threat will only increase and there will be more demands on EOD.

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72 Responses to “USAF EOD Beret Nixed”

  1. PJ says:

    I have to agree with this article. I fail to understand the reasoning behind security force’s beret, but EOD’s got nixed? I see a far more dangerous job with EOD members then security forces. Was security forces given a beret to let everyone know that they are a cop? Or provide ECP duties on a daily basis and a carry a weapon? Would I put EOD in elite status? Possibly, considering their schooling is tough, and they are the ones that clear the roads for us, I think they have earned it, and I can respect that.

    I think the AF sometimes forgets what’s going in the world around them, and don’t give credit when credit is due.

    • SFS NCO says:

      In defense of SFS beret, we have worn our beret for over 4 decades. We were awarded our beret before any other career field. Our school may not be as long as EOD, however we carry a firearm to work EVERYDAY, not just on deployments. Respect for all should be shown.

      • EOD NCO says:

        Besides weapons qualifications when was the last time SF fired a weapon at anyone outside the wire.

        • Crusty says:

          No need to pick on the AF Cops…they thought of the idea first

        • Former SF NCO says:

          For a supposed non-commissioned officer in the United States Air Force, that’s a surprisingly ignorant comment. Security Forces airmen (many, although not all) have been involved in OTW combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan. A close friend of mine was awarded the Army’s Combat Action Badge, and TSgt Dustin Goodwin received the Bronze Star for helping to repel an attack on a forward operating base in Jalalabad. While they may be the minority in Security Forces, your comment disrespects their courage and service.

          • Another EOD NCO says:

            Wow! A Security Forces guy got the Army’s Combat Action Badge and the Bronze Star….That Outstanding! I look around my shop here and we’ve got 18 people assigned. 14 of them have seen combat and we have a total of 11 Bronze Stars that were awarded by the Army. Security Forces is nothing more than glorified Mall security guards.

          • Another SFS NCO says:

            Security Forces does more than most people realize, From the 365 PTT missions to PSD we are a very versatile career field, many are assigned to the Army for PRT missions and pulling security for EOD. But I have to point out, we are Security Police, and the beret was issued so we would stand out from the rest of the AF as the Police/Security on base. EOD deserves their beret, the ones I’ve worked with were amazing. Anyone who walks up to an IED that we try to avoid deserves our respect, at the very least give them a cool hat!

      • EOD SNCO says:

        Not all SF personnel carry weapons EVERYDAY. EOD may not carry a weapon everyday, but I’d rather face any enemy armed with any of my EOD brothers and sisters, than engage in a fire fight with the majority of SF personnel at my side. AF cops are not bred for war, they are trained for law enforcement.

      • EOMFD says:

        We can always just copy SF from the late 1960s and early 1970s by having the beret approved at the base level and just start wearing it until its official throughout EOD. But then again, I think we should earn our Beret the correct way.

        “Although the beret was not an authorized uniform item for Security Police work, several local commanders authorized a dark blue beret for their units even though the official Security Police cover remained the white service cap.”

        http://safesideassociation.org/blue_beret.html

        • Johca says:

          The level of beret wear authority and approval the article discusses is not organizational duty or ceremonial (honor guard, band, drill team) duty uniform wear. Unfortunately current AFI policy closes Beret as a duty uniform option for EOD using local commander authorization and authority.

          It took 49 years of just wearing it before it got approved if this rationale is the justification. Thuis EOD has at least 50 years of just wearing it to meet this standard.

          http://www.3973cds.com/3973cdsbeach.php <picture of SAC Combat Defense Squadron members wearing beret whille in field doing a Nuke mishap clean-up opertions.

          http://www.3973cds.com/3973cdsbomb.php <–more pictures of same incident response.

      • Combat Controller says:

        That’s fucking horseshit. CCT was wearing a Navy blue beret 5 decades ago. Then the non combat AFSC military police, errr I mean security police, errr I mean security forces took it. Much like when big army stole the ranger’s beret. This happened in the 70’s and is the reason CCT went to scarlet red.

        You know what? Fucking keep it, berets are non functional HEY HEY LOOK AT ME devices that only douche bags like to wear or want to wear. I hate wearing mine, good thing I don’t have to for months at a time.

        btw, holy dogshit that you carry a firearm to work EVERYDAY! The concept of responsibly handling a firearm on a daily basis completely blows my fucking mind. However do you do it? Actually I know you carry firearms everyday and it scares the living shit out of me. I feel safer around ANA carrying a loaded weapon.

    • EOD_WestTX says:

      Not possibly, We are elite! Besides, its not about being elite. We arent trying to one up any other AFSC with a beret or compare at all. Its about remembering our mission and the fallen.

      We have a large percentage of the fatalities in these wars. 28% for Iraq and 20% for afghanistan. We have a large amount of amputees, many of which fight to stay in the career field they love so much. They continue to stay in even if it means only sharing the knowledge to keep the next generation alive and better trained.

      The mission has completely changed. Progressing from sitting on a flightline to completely integrating into infantry units to assisting special operators. So many Techs are sleeping inside trucks, under trucks, or even on the ground if thats what it takes. We arent just clearing roads… We are in the fight and do so much more. These are the things we are memorializing and signifying with the beret.

      Maybe it is a piece of headgear to some but its more to us. The fact and reasoning in which it was shot down doesnt sit well with most, so we will continue pursuing what we deserve.

      • Another EOD NCO says:

        Those figures are pretty big especially when you consider that we only account for 0.23% of the total Air Force.

      • Combat Controller says:

        You need a piece of headgear to put on everyday to remind you of your mission?

        You are not special operations, elite, or combat oriented. You have women in your career field.

        • EODUSA says:

          You know for being a Combat Controller that is a pretty stupid statement, not elite , special operations, or combat oriented….. Now I am not sure if you are referring to AF EOD or what, but you sound like a fake. EOD has and continues to work with SOF, Not combat oriented that is funny, EOD spends its time outside the wire conducting its mission typically with little sleep. EOD not being combat oriented is the most ignorant statement I have ever heard and anyone who has spent time outside of the wire knows it. If you think it is so easy and not at all dangerous or combat oriented that is self correcting. Why don’t you go do it. Oh I am sure you will have some grand story of how you do EODs job cause you got lucky screwing with an IED. Nevermind the fact you have no idea what it entails. Most EOD and SOF get along because the people are so much alike, and we both know what we do and respect one another. Finally, women in your career field? Wow, they do the same damn job and lose limbs and lives just like the men in EOD. Grow up, you are obviously not who or what you say you are and if you are it is pretty safe to say you won’t last long in your profession. No one likes or wants to work with an ignorant, unprofessional, ass.

    • EOD one says:

      As an EOD tech I don’t care to wear a beret. I wore one for 12 years in the army (not the black one everybody wears) I actually got out of the Army in part because of the disgracefull implemintation of the black beret by all. I came over to the blue now and if we go to tan beret I’ll wear it but I don’t need a special french hat to make me feel good about what I do. As far as the SFS beret it lets the rest of us know who they are. I don’t mean that as a complement either.

  2. Strike-Hold! says:

    Having worn my maroon beret with great pride becuase of what I did to earn the right to wear it, I have every sympathy with the EOD troops request – and I support their intentions. But I also agree that Tan was not a good choice – given how emotive the switch over from Black to Tan was for the Rangers. On the other hand, there does seem to be a rather willy-nilly approach to beret wearing in the Air Force, and the senior USAF leadership definitely seem to their collective heads up their fourth points of contact. Just look at that B.S. digital-tiger-stripe uniform they implemented.

    As you pointed out in your piece, there are some much deeper issues here than the approval to wear a beret or not – both with the USAF handling of EOD specifically, and with the Air Force’s mentality more generally.

    Let’s hope that the EOD folks get the respect and support that they deserve – and let’s also hope that the Air Force brass hats wake up and smell the fertilizer too…

  3. eomfd says:

    “But then again, where do you put them if not CE?”

    Good question. There is a simple answer. Unfortunately, AFCESA would never allow it.

    The answer is to create an Air Force EOD Field Operating Agency. When you look at the definition of an FOA, it seems like a perfect fit for a career field that has never fit in with the rest of the traditional Air Force mission.

    The powers that be at AFCESA, unfortunately, feel it’s best to be in CE because it allows EOD access to a larger pot of money than they were used to under their old ABO days. Back when we used to be lumped in with DP.

    Staying under CE simply because it means more money than they were used to seems a little dumb to me. But maybe that’s why I’m not the Career Field Manager.

    • Johca says:

      Field Operating Agencies are subdivisions of either HQ USAF or a major command. Such organizations are often specialized and regardless of how structured seldom, if ever, have authority to task operations be executed or provide operational leadership and supervision. More importantly the capability purpose of such organizations is not one unique career field functional management and any field activities expected to be beyond that of routine installation, combat support and service combat support.

      The Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) is a field operating agency (prior to being an Agency it was the Air Weather Service) and the reason it exists is initially the result of the National Security Act of 1947 which in process of assigning primary service responsibilities gave Air Force primary weather functions and funding budget for both Air Force and Army. The Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 subsequently forced a bit more jointness with Navy Weather Service resulting in a HQ USAF subordinate Field Operating Agency. EOD as a capability does not justify a self-serving EOD specific Field agency as mission utilization of EOD members regardless of service do not perform specialized field activities beyond the scope of capability provided by any military unit EOD members are assigned to.

      EOD=Explosive Ordinance Disposal with emphasis on disposal not being demolition. Disposal duties emphasizes capability exits to render safe ordnance and munitions inventories and also render safe unexploded ordnance (to include IED, booby traps) hindering , hampering, obstructing, preventing operations. The AF EOD career field or AF units members are assigned to are not capability purpose identified to of having tactical capability purpose to directly assist, control, enable, and/or execute operational air and space power functions (AFDD 1) in the forward battlespace independent of an established airbase or its perimeter defenses. This is the operational utilization demarcation differing members of Air Force EOD career field for other Battlefield career fields such as Pararescue, Combat Control Teams, TACP, and Special Operations Weather. It is also the special operations force utilization demarcation differing AF EOD from the Naval Special Warfare EOD teams (the only explosives and bomb specialists qualified for special operations).

      AF EOD’s career field primary capability purpose and capability purpose of AF units AF EOD members are assigned to is to support installation and provide service combat support to ensuring the air combat fighting capability can land and take-off and to disarm render safe IED and booby trap threats to base/installation operations of defensive nature and not to conduct autonomous offensive small unit combat operations against the enemy.

      • eomfd says:

        Johca, I really wanted to read your response, but I cannot get past your spelling of ordnance as “ordinance.” I know it may sound petty, but many years of conditioning are hard to overcome.

      • Hambone says:

        Johca, What about SERE then? They don’t operate independently from an established airbase or it’s perimeter defenses either. They support aircrew with training yet they have a distinctive badge, beret and tab and are classified as battlefield airmen. Now that I think about it, when was the last time a SERE guy was in combat or did anything of significance? TACP and SOWT serve as support to Army units and don’t operate independently. The PJs and CCT do fit into the definition of special operations, but I still don’t believe they are wholly independent. Why don’t you talk to some of the EOD techs that have done 40+ day C-IED missions out of a vehicle without stepping inside an established airbase or defended perimeter and tell them they are simply airbase support and see where that gets you. I know you’re either a PJ or CCT, and I can’t speak on what you guys do, but don’t pretend to know everything there is to know about EOD unless you are EOD.

        “EOD members regardless of service do not perform specialized field activities beyond the scope of capability provided by any military unit EOD members are assigned to.” Are you kidding me with this comment?

    • EOD SNCO says:

      As for where to put Air Force EOD, there have been several proposals. In 2001, LCDR Fleck, US Navy, proposed a Joint EOD Command within SOCOM. This force structure probably would have best allocated qualified EOD technicians across the DoD force and ensured battlefield commanders received the specialized capability they expected. However, among other things, Service politics prevented this option from being seriously considered and, realistically, the Air Force EOD program was probably not yet ready to be fully engaged on the battlefield. In the end, getting the Services to agree on such massive shift in EOD organization is unlikely to occur. This proposal also might shift AF EOD priorities too far from its base support role, which although less glamourous, is still a critical component of the AF mission.

      Within the Air Force, several career fields that have highly-specialized, combat-oriented skill sets belong to the Battlefield Airman classification. These career fields provide low-density, high demand assets that receive specialized training and equipment to perform operational tasks in high threat environments. Because of the critical nature of those tasks, all Battlefield Airmen must maintain the highest standards of physical fitness and tactical capability so that they may be called upon at a moment’s notice to interdict the enemy and fulfill roles that are vital to battlefield operations. While I haven’t examined the full DOTMLPF analysis mentioned in the response (denial) of the proposal, I can see both sides of why AF EOD should and should not be Battlefield Airmen. There is no doubt that a certain percentage of AF EOD forces could immediately transition into this classification and I believe they would provide a significant capability to the operational environment. Transitioning the nearly 1000 AF EOD techs to this classification might be less realistic or useful to the Service. The exploration of the idea that a subset of the career field would be extremely valuable as Battlefield Airmen is worthy of examination.

      The idea of a FOA is interesting. In the search for a direct comparison, AF EOD and AFOSI have strikingly similar mission areas (see AFMD 39, http://tinyurl.com/ckk382f and AFPD 32-30, http://tinyurl.com/cx7b9w9). This organizational framework would enable the strategic level reporting and provide for additional staff-level officer positions. Furthermore, EOD has a similar need to operate with augmenting security forces much like OSI to conduct weapons intelligence gathering activities. This construct would likely benefit the Air Force force protection capability by encouraging additional liaison between EOD and OSI as separate FOAs with similar missions as a strategic force protection capability that keeps the enemy from operating within the Base Security Zone. Many are familiar with the original WIT concept, which although poorly implemented with unqualified support personnel, was a good idea conceptually. One thing to note, however, is that OSI also has a requirement for objectivity in investigation of internal criminal activity, so I don’t advocate the idea of placing EOD and OSI in the same FOA. An EOD FOA would also have responsibilities outside of the force protection realm that must still be maintained, possibly as field detachments. In summary, I think the EOD FOA organizational concept has merit and should be further explored as a possibility.

  4. Rick says:

    Berets? After talking to numerous of my AF EOD bretheren none of them wanted to wear one. Especially after us Army guys fought so hard to get rid of the ridiculous headgear forced upon us. The fact that they get more training is a move in the right direction, but there are much larger issues that have yet to be addressed in the AF EOD careerfield.

    I cannot speak on them as well as an AF tech, but the officer career field issue is one of great contention both with the officer and enlisted troops. AF EOD teams are also tasked to deploy and operate as “Flights” downrange without the CONUS Flight forward deploying. This means a pieced together unit that hasnt had the benefit of working together longer than a few weeks prior to deploying. This is not saying that they are any less capable than their Army, USMC, or Navy bretheren, just that they are put at a disadvantage that the other services do not share.

    With the demands placed upon them I would hope the AF begins to recognize the additional requirements needed in order to enhance their readiness for combat operations and takes the actions needed to fill them.

    As an Army Tech we have our own issues that mirror the AF guys stemming from being staffed, organized, and equipped as rear-echelon (Combat Service-Support or Force Sustainment – whatever its called at the moment). It isnt going to be a quick fix for either service, but as IEDs remain a staple of combat operations, as they most likely will in any future theater as well, the sooner these issues are addressed the more efftective we will be.

    Rick

  5. tigerblue says:

    Funny how a rarely seen piece of cerimonial headgear causes such sound and fury. The wearing of berets in the US military mostly dates to the war in southeast asia, where it was a ‘fad’, everyone wanting to look like a ‘special forces’,elite,super-duper trooper.Black was the ‘generic’ color for LURRPS,SEALS,riverine,and dog handlers(who were one of the few to have,if not approval,at least a ‘nod’ from higher ups).It wasnt untill the late 70s that ‘big army’ at last approved berets for airborne and ranger battalions(very reluctantly)(also OPFOR trainers).Ironically, it was the airforce that ‘got the ball rolling’ regarding berets.They first issued them to SAC honor guards and security police in the late 50s..just after the army special forces won the right/privilage to have their ‘green beenies’.Even the marines toyed with the idea of berets(although they will deny it to their deaths).All this for a ‘hat’ that looks kind of funny(although admitedly awfull cool) itches,and looks awfull in the rain.When is the last time you saw american troops in the field wearing berets?Long ago maybe, in ‘nam’ but today? No way.For europeans its just anouther piece of headgear.We americans have put berets so high on a pedastal that i think we forget the reasoning behind them.They are a symbol of an ‘elite’ group,in a ‘corporate’ military that never has liked or even trusted ‘elites’. Lastly..few work harder to win a beret than the army special forces.The ‘green beret’ is cherished so much…that it is rarely seen even by those who own one.When are they worn? For cerimonial functions..something often endured reluctantly..for funerals..something no one wants to have to face..or when journalists are present..something to be avoided at all costs.Aahh for the days when berets were worn proudly..err..wait..that hasnt been too often here in america.

  6. EODcheese says:

    The argument that tan isn’t a good choice due to it’s use by the Ranger Regiment is rather specious. Black was worn by JTAC/ALO while used by the Rangers and the Army at large, maroon has been used by CCT along with the 82nd Airborne as well.

    The argument that our badge is distinctive enough doesn’t hold water either, as the Air Force has a badge for every single AFSC. It’s no more special than a services airman, CE Readiness, or Chaplain Assistant. In the other services, badges are not handed to everyone, thus making the EOD badge a symbol of significance.

    The point of wearing a beret in the field is just silly, as NO ONE wears a beret anywhere other than in garrison. I sincerely doubt any current beret wearer in the Air Force grouses about what it symbolizes when they walk outdoors. A tangible reminder of the sacrifices they endured to earn the “silly french headgear”, and a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice their job has demanded of so many of their colleagues.

    Security Police at certain bases in SAC wore a beret locally, until SP as a whole got it approved, and then retained it when merged with ABGD and other elements. Perhaps we should do the same, as the ‘official’ route has been closed.

    Overall, this is just another slap in the face to a career field that has sacrificed so much in GWOT (and before as well. The ‘OTW’ mission isn’t new, Vietnam saw a very similar situation presented to AF EOD) The Air Force is quick to show off their ‘money makers’ and tout what ‘the Air Force’ is doing in GWOT, but they are adamant that we must continue to act like we love CE, and our place is on base.

    • TACPJustin says:

      Can’t speak for CCT or PJ/CRO but the TACP community rocks the black beret b/c our community was founded from our close relationship with the Army, especially the Ranger Regiment. The premise being that it encouraged an early version of joint force interoperability. Can’t be sure, but I’ve heard before that PJ/CRO used maroon b/c they were among the first AF communities to send guys to Benning on the reg. Just FYSA.

      I absolutely agree that EOD should be considered a Battlefield Airman AFSC. Can’t think of one reason why they shouldn’t, especially when you consider the way they are employed throughout OEF.

      As far as wearing something that sets you apart, I thought that’s kind of what wearing the Crab was for?

      • EODcheese says:

        Deepest apologies, maroon is PJ/CRO *embarassed*

        For the other 3 services, having an occupational badge is highly unusual, and a clear symbol commanding respect. Not so with the Air Force. For far too many, badges mean nothing.

        Another thought, the argument comes up that since we know what we do, and all that we accomplished, that’s all that matters. I respectfully disagree. After a decade of combating the enemy’s #1 weapon, it’s time the rest of the Air Force recognized the amazing, heroic accomplishments their EOD community has been a part of.

    • marlboroman says:

      controllers wear scarlette berets….. get it right cheese

    • cct says:

      CCT- Red Beret(scarlet) not maroon

  7. EODwick says:

    Agreed! Nicely put

  8. Ex-AFEOD says:

    As someone who got out after 10 years as Air Force EOD (seperated in September), I will say that I got out because of the Battlefield Airman submission and how it (we) were handled. The beret issue was supposed to be a concillitory measure because of the B.A fuck up, at least that was how it was perceived by many of us in the career field. When I recently spoke to the ACC CE CEM (CMSgt Mosier) about my reason to seperate during a “meet the troops, press the flesh” trip he made to my place of business (I still work as a contractor in one of the flights), he cut me off and told me that if I seperated over these issues then they didn’t want me anyway. This just shows the mentality of AF Leadership. AF EOD does not have leadership but merely a few Chief Master Sergeants that equate to Airman at HQ levels and a handfull of officers that get lumped back into CE anyway due to our flawed officer career path. In my opinion you vote on the AF with your decision to reenlist, I chose to vote no on big blue. The beret issue and Chief Mosier were helpfull in vindicating my decision. As far as AFCESA, WAFJ!

    • Ex-AFEOD says:

      I would also like to mention that the person I mentioned WAS NOT CMSgt Mosier, the AF EOD Technician.

  9. King Crab says:

    I voted for a pink one. We are a different group of people, but trust me when I say, who else would do what we do? Not the Cops that is for sure. Yes they carry a gun everyday, but don’t ever draw it. That is like changing the oil on a rental car.

  10. mpower6428 says:

    berets are for sissy’s, im not sayin, im just sayin.

  11. Fish says:

    SERE Beret is “Sea Foam Green?” Couldn’t be more obvious this request was truly written by a tech. Seems like that would have been a pretty good choice of color too. Just had to point it out as it certainly made me chuckle.

  12. BaumTek says:

    Whether people wanted it or not, even if it was approved, we still wouldn’t be satisfied. The problem isn’t the beret, it’s a systemic problem with the way the Air Force is operating these days. When the main push of recent AF EOD times was to achieve a Battlefield Airman status, a beret for a consolation prize probably wasn’t the best plan B if things went south. The problem really starts off at our EOD leadership in the AF. We’re talking about 25-30 year vets, to whom this kind of warfare that were dealing with nowadays and the kind of taskings we’re getting is relatively unprecedented. So there is already a disconnect between techs and leaders. Add in the AF’s continual regression from a disciplined military force into a chaotic kindergarten class, and you get the “everyone is special” mentality that puts far too much importance on the menial accomplishments of the many, while the extraordinary accomplishments of the few get pushed aside because they don’t jive with the quota this quarter. I would go as far to say that most of the military is headed down this path, although the AF is and always has been more susceptible to the degeneration of a warrior identity, simply because it tends to follow more of a “smarter not stronger” attitude than the rest of the branches. Fact is as the times change, technology advances and the world shrinks, the “age of heroes” really comes to a close along with what is perceived to be elite. So the question comes down to this: Is AF EOD elite? Without being biased, I would say, yes, and not simply because of this whole beret debate, but because of the truly distinctive accomplishments and sacrifices that we have made in the line of duty. It goes without saying that these wars have taken a massive toll on us all, but I personally believe the past ten years have really defined the courage and commitment of the AF EOD community, with that said, instead of dwelling on the loss of BA or a beret, take hold of what you have achieved and let your triumphs make you among the elite, not a wool hat.

  13. NC says:

    EOD has a lot of big egoes and aggressive type-A personalities, so you all can only imagine the amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth that has gone on during the beret debacle.

    Personally, I think we (AF EOD) deserve it as much as anyone else in the Air Force, but it’s not that big of a deal. I’d rather have a baseball cap that says “EOD” on it that I could wear around, but that’s not going to happen. Nobody gets organizational caps with the ABU, except RED HORSE some crazy how.

    Here’s the thing. Many of the EOD techs presently serving came into the Air Force after 9/11. They’ve never known the military without the War on Terror. Some of them I don’t think understand that the present situation is temporary, and the next war WILL be different.

    Take Iraq, for example. The EOD mission was chiefly counter-IED, but other than that was very conventional. You operated out of a large, built-up base, loaded up into your truck (Humvee first, JERRVs later), and rolled out. Iraq was where it was at, and Afghanistan was more or less neglected.

    Presently it’s the other way around. We’re leaving Iraq altogether and the focus is on Afghanistan. And Afghanistan is different than Iraq. You may be stuck doing nothing but route clearance, or you may do a crap load of fly-aways and dismounts. EOD operations involved a ruck march as often as not, depending on where you are.

    This means Air Force techs are doing an Army/Marine mission, embedded with infantry and cavalry units. They’re doing ruck marches, aerial insertions, and multi-day ops. Grunt stuff. Not, by Army standards, special operations stuff, but grunt stuff all the same. So we’re on the battlefield as much as anybody in the Air Force.

    But, technically, being “battlefield airmen” means no women, because by Federal law women aren’t allowed in combat (even though it happens all the time). The USAF is way too PC to be the only service to exclude women from EOD (even though they’re a small minority in the career field). Honestly, there’s no reason to, either. The Army, Navy, and Marines all allow women into EOD.

    But this is all Afghanistan-centric. When we finally leave this God-forsaken craphole, those missions are going to disappear. No one can say what will happen in the next war. The IED threat will never go away, obviously, but operating under the assumption that the next war will be like Iraq or Afghanistan is folly.

    Before 9/11, everyone assumed the next war would be a conventional operation like the Gulf War, or the Balkans. A multinational coalition taking on a rogue state. No-one dreamed we’d end up invading Afghanistan and staying there for ten years. But some Vietnam veterans may have been able to warn us that such a thing was possible.

    So Iraq and Afghanistan have really and truly been EOD’s war, our time to shine. The beret would be a welcome recognition of our contribution. At the same time, I don’t think EOD belongs in AFSOC. AFSOC doesn’t have an everyday base support mission like EOD does, and after we leave Afghanistan that’s pretty much all we’re going to be doing until the next conflict.

    EOD doesn’t really belong in CE, either, though. I’d like to hear more about this idea of making us a Field Operating Agency. I know it’ll never happen, obviously; CE will never free us from their clutches now. But it’s fun to speculate.

    A larger issue, I think, is EOD’s relationship with Big Blue. I think EOD suffers from the lack of its own officer corps; there’s no one to represent us in particular at the higher levels.

    Many AF techs resent the Air Force. A lot of it is understandable. A lot of it is just griping. I have no doubt that Army techs complain just as much about Big Army, so it’s not like the grass is any greener. The military is a big dumb bureaucracy and it’s always going to be that way.

    The Air Force itself is hurting. We’ve had a disturbing lack of real leadership since the end of the Cold War. Things kind of went to shit after they disbanded Strategic Air Command. The planes we’re flying now are, by and large, the exact same airframes we were flying in the Gulf War. The average age of a USAF warplane is over twenty years, and it’s only that low because a few F-16s were bought in the 90s and the F-22s are all new.

    It’s only going to get worse, too. Massive budget cuts are coming, and the Air Force’s core missions are going to have to be scaled back. Support functions like EOD are going to suffer in that environment. If you were in the military during the Clinton Administration, I think you can appreciate what’s coming.

    But that’s a matter for another discussion, and this has gotten way too long as is.

    • NC says:

      I should point out that the beret debacle demonstrates the lack of leadership. It was drawn out this long because no-one wanted to make a decision one way or another. The Air Force is stumbling along like this at many levels.

    • Johca says:

      Ref:
      But, technically, being “battlefield airmen” means no women, because by Federal law women aren’t allowed in combat (even though it happens all the time).

      Not true Combat Weather (1W0X1 parachutist coded duty positions directly supporting Army combat mission, but not special operations weather (AFSC 1W0X2), are Battlefield Airman duty positions open to female airman and wear the “grey Beret”.

      This is a result of SOW becoming a uniqiue seperate AFSC rather than an alpha shredout combat weather parachutist coded 1W0X1 duty position. Members of 1W0X2 are career operational mission capability managed and members performing duty assignment parachist duties of AFSC 1W0X1 are not.

  14. EOD Prior Cop NCO says:

    As a former SF member, the beret is not warranted. Throughout my years in SF I did not feel the beret was earned. Cops wear a beret to show they are operating in a law enforcement capacity. The rest of the beret wearing AFSC’s don a beret out of heritage and accomplishment. EOD Techs have made many sacrafices, are held to the highest standard and should be recognized for their unique mission.

  15. Johca says:

    In defense of SFS beret, we have worn our beret for over 4 decades. We were awarded our beret before any other career field. Our school may not be as long as EOD, however we carry a firearm to work EVERYDAY, not just on deployments. Respect for all should be shown.

    As a HQ SAC honor guard organizational cermonial duty uniform the Security Forces beret goes back to December 1956. By 1966 it was a garrison/field duty uniform for SACs Combat Defense Security Squadrons and in September 1966 the unit commander of Operation Safe Side decided members of his unit shold be distinguishable from the typical AF SP. As a distinctive beret uniform worn with serivice uniform both on duty and off duty to include weaing to PME courses this level of approval and authority did not come about until 2005.

    A comprehensive history of beret wear history as apart of the service uniform both on and off duty is here —->
    http://www.alaska.net/~jcassidy/pdf_files/U.S.%20Armed%20Forces%20Beret%20History.pdf

  16. EOD guy says:

    It reached the point on this whole beret issue that I simply did not not care what decision was made on wearing or not wearing a beret, I just wanted someone to decide. The amount of time it took, and the drama associated points to many of the other leadership problems going on in the AF. No one is willing to stick their neck out and make a decision, and this uniform mess is flat out ridiculous. Why is it so hard to decide what we wear day to day? Why is it so hard for AF leadership to understand wearing a uniform that doesn’t make us stand out like a walking target in combat? And why wouldn’t that just be our ONLY day to day uniform, so that I don’t have to lug around 5 different sets of uniforms? They are getting closer and closer to that, but it’s only taken 10 years to get there. And any time a uniform issue is brought up, or I am corrected for improper wear of anything(wearing a CAB, etc.), the image that always comes to mind is of an AF general walking around base in his flight suit all day every day. What sort of leadership by example does that show? Where is your plane sir? Are you on call to leave on a combat sortie at any second? I was under the impression, because it has been briefed to me be many SNCOs and officers that there is only one AF uniform? And that everything else was gear and needed to be taken off as soon as whatever mission is requiring you to wear it is over? Oh, that is your combat uniform that you EARNED, and regulations(that you help write) state that it is acceptable, so it is alright for you to wear it everywhere. I see. Thank you sir for defending your country.

  17. Johca says:

    Ref: “Don’t get me wrong, EOD enjoys higher physical fitness requirements,..”

    Enjoys is not exactly accurate in describing the necessity resulting in EOD implementing a PAST standard.

    The AF EOD PAST minimums are: 1.5 mile run no slower than 11 minutes, 3 pull-ups within two minutes, 50 sit-ups within two minutes, 35 push-ups within two minutes. All of AF EODs PAST minimums at best are either less in repetitions or time and distance than the Army Physical Fitness Test minimums for males of age between 17 and 21.

    The necessity of the Air Force implementing the EOD PAST was result of the typical lack of possessing sufficient level of ground combat fitness among all members (male & Female) of Air Force EOD career field to participate in doing unmounted (foot marched) while wearing fighting load or more with conventional combat infantry forces when Air Force was asked to fill in-lieu of tasking requirements.
    In this regard the AF EOD PAST standard is doing nothing to increase physical performance survivability in the operational ground combat environment.

    Ref: “And any time a uniform issue is brought up, or I am corrected for improper wear of anything (wearing a CAB, etc.), the image that always comes to mind is of an AF general walking around base in his flight suit all day every day. What sort of leadership by example does that show?”

    The uniform image being ignorantly connected to leadership lacks specifics of human performance and behavior competencies. Leadership describes no action skills in providing directions, implementing, and motivating in the combat environment. Neither does it address command authority, which is not limited to commissioned officers, of being in a duty position to direct and control others as a leader in executing tasked military operations. As example NCO members of the army such as tank commander, squad leader, platoon sergeant are in duty positions that uses command authority to direct and control. Thus the emphasis should be on typical or general tactical and technical competence of every member of the career field rather than a flag officer’s wear of flight suit leadership image. The critical traits of combat leading are courage, candor, competence, and commitment.

    • EOD guy says:

      The majority of your reply displays a distinct lack of ability in simple sentence structure. It reads like someone attempting to sound intelligent by poorly quoting a textbook. Most of it flat out does not make any sense, but I believe I understand the gist of what you are trying to express.

      That aside, of course the emphasis on the tactical level should be on how well an individual performs their assigned duties, and not on how well they wear the uniform. I find it strange that you would go out of your way to disconnect the uniform from command authority though. It is, after all, how we in the military have always distinguished who is in command on a day to day basis. It has also always been the most common measure of a well disciplined military force, all the way back to the days of marching in line formation out onto a field to shoot at one another. Or before that in the Roman phalanxes. Even today the drill and parade ceremonies still exist. And for some, uniform inspections are still a common occurrence. So, to blithely ignore the importance of how superiors act in regard to their own uniform wear, and how that would affect the discipline of the ranks below, is foolish at best.

      As for your quotation of the critical traits of combat leading, in case you missed the entire thread so far, we have been discussing a certain garrison uniform item. This is not a discussion about the ability to lead in combat, but rather entirely about when and how we should wear certain items after our return from combat. I believe more of those flag officers, and I know that some do, should display candor to those below and discuss why they consistently fail to set unified standards. Perhaps they should show a little courage and step up to make decisions in a timely manner, instead of simply tabling difficult ones and hoping they go away. They could also competently pick a combat uniform, instead of ignoring all experts in the field of uniform manufacturing and going with the design with the most pen pockets instead. And finally they could show some commitment to those they command by not exempting themselves from their own rules. A good leader would never expect their subordinates to do something they would be unwilling to do themselves.

      If you feel that my comment does not adequately answer your own reply, please write again. And this time at least try to be more coherent.

      • EOD guy says:

        Actually, never mind, please don’t write again. I stopped caring.

        • Johca says:

          LOL my lack of writing eloquence doesn’t contaminate my comments to be appropriate or inappropriate. Neither does my lack of eloquence measure me as being a bad or unworthy person to be dismissed.

          The gist of my comments is to provide a more fuller background to uninformed readers for them to better understand comparisons being made and for the reader to decide whether to examine the complicated aspects affecting the decision made.

  18. EOD SNCO says:

    The denial of the beret is disappointing. However, in the end it is a uniform item that was not authorized and any debate over wear at this point is philosophical. From my perspective, the Air Force has yet to officially recognize the combat sacrifices and skills of one of the most decorated [by other services] and heavily tasked career fields in DoD. We are the lost stepchild hoping to gain something more than a quick pat on the back from Dad.

    Perhaps more disturbing is that Air Force EOD represents nearly one third of the total Defense Dept EOD capability, but fails to describe its most valuable modern capability to Combatant Commanders in its nine core mission sets. There is no course or classification that can substitute for the collective experience of thousands of IED disablements or forensic evaluations over years of combat service in both OEF and OIF. As a capability required to defeat guerilla tactics, including improvised rockets and mortars that threaten airfields, this career field should be at the forefront of Air Force development for current and future conflicts. Along with UAVs and special warfare, EOD is uniquely suited for asymmetric battlefields.

    AF EOD is, unfortunately, perceived as a misplaced tool that will one day be placed back in its old foam cutout. Beret or no beret, I am sad that a modern capability cannot be seen for what it is. Instead, those who served will leave out of frustration and the capability will be lost. The combined experiences of back-to-back deployments, thousands of IEDs, millions of dollars in training…gone. Like the beret, an idea that passed by without approval.

    • Johca says:

      What are the nine core Combatant command or commander mission sets being referenced? The actual mission utilization is “common servicing” and it is discussed in Joint Publication 3-4, Joint Engineering Operations.

      Although EOD is a joint capability, which is why the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) badge is a joint service badge, the core EOD capabilities each Service provides differ as result of each services’ traditional roles and specific operational needs. For the Air Force this is to open, establish, and maintain airbase power projection platforms (installation infrastructure, airfield infrastructure, training ranges, force protection and aircraft). Common servicing suggests minimum level of skill and tasks competencies continuity expected or demanded of members of EOD regardless of Service and unit assigned to, but such equal level of continuity only extends to qualification needed for award of the EOD badges as the forward ground battlefield capability minimum EOD skill and proficiencies qualifications are unit mission capability driven and not career field driven.

      The President, through the SECDEF and with the advice and assistance of the CJCS, establishes combatant (unified) commands for the performance of military missions and prescribes the force structure of such commands.

      Missions’ are the tasks assigned by the President or Secretary of Defense to the combatant commanders.

      ‘Functions’ are specific responsibilities assigned by the President/SECDEF to enable the Services to fulfill their legally established roles.

      The Air Force has twelve core mission functions (sets) it provides to combatant commanders. These core functions express the ways in which the Air Force is particularly and appropriately suited to contribute to national security, but they do not necessarily express every aspect of what the Air Force contributes. These twelve core mission functions are: Nuclear Deterrence Operations, Air Superiority, Space Superiority, Cyberspace Superiority, Command and Control, Global Integrated ISR, Global Precision Attack, Special Operations, Rapid Global Mobility, Personnel Recovery, Agile Combat Support and Building Partnerships. Ref AFDD-1 , 14 Oct 2011.

      Regardless of Service, EOD is an augmenting civil engineering force capability (Naval Special Warfare EODs being the exception) that supports combat operations. For AF EOD the traditional mission support capability purpose is clears or removes end of service life or malfunctioning munitions in storage, or loaded on aircraft or on training ranges. Weapon technical intelligence for purpose of defeating or mitigating hazards is detection, identification, and sampling capabilities for infrastructure and lines of communications protections more than a direct action defeat capability purpose.

      The weapon technical intelligence capability need existed before 9-11 and if it disapears in the future it will not not do so because of AF beret uniform politics.

  19. USAF SF NCO says:

    First off, I agree that EOD is deserving of a beret, if that’s what they want. No pandering here, just my concurrence. That said, its pathetic that in order to defend the desire for the beret as a device of recognition, it is deemed necessary to trash another career field. We may not all be super tech combat troops with a million CABs and Bronze Stars, but our beret WAS earned, both in this conflict and prior. It was AF Air Police that sat in machine gun nests outside little air fields in Vietnam, fighting off VC forces that were numerically far superior, dying in the attempt to buy a little time for the on base airmen, EOD included, to prepare to defend themselves. I have had my fair share of OTW missions on three tours in Iraq and it wasn’t EOD that found the IEDs I nearly drove over. It was me, or a trans troop, or an OSI troop. We then called EOD out to perform the unenviable task of disarming it. I rode in the turret as a security element for EOD teams and trained them to operate their M249s and M240Bs. I have nothing but respect for EOD and am amazed at the undeserved trash talking that my career field is taking just because EOD didn’t get a beret. Also, on a related note, we wear brassards to identify that we are on duty in a security or Law Enforcement role. The beret is a uniform item regardless of arming status.

    • EOD SNCO says:

      Well said, and thank you for your service. There is no doubt that Security Forces has played a significant role in OIF/OEF and deserves respect for their own sacrifices, both in the current conflict and previous ones. The beret proposal itself placed heavy focus on some of the reasoning behind Security Forces wearing a beret, so the comparison between both specialties and why one should have a beret and the other shouldn’t is naturally part of the discussion. In the end, the denial seems more of a political decision rather than a result of logical analysis of the facts. There is concern among CE that an EOD beret would contribute to further division within the organization. Additionally, AF EOD is split between those who have grown up on the battlefield and those who treasure the anonymity of the past or simply do not like the details about the beret as a hat. I see the beret as a visible symbol of the evolution of our current operations from the past and a Service acknowledgement of the sacrifices OIF/OEF techs have made.

  20. EOD SNCO says:

    I will clarify. The beret will not cause a loss of capability. However, the proposals and subsequent denials of both the Battlefield Airman classification and the Beret are indicative of the status of organization and command relationships. While the Battlefield Airman proposal was complex and might be explained away in statistics or hypotheticals, the Beret was pretty cut and dry. No one can say it hasn’t been earned. Additionally, I would pose that a Beret is a symbol of membership in a group of combat-oriented career fields and the EOD badge, while absolutely sacred to an EOD tech in any service, has little meaning to those who haven’t earned it. One doesn’t replace the other. Personally, I feel my troops have fulfilled the qualifications and they want one, so I support it.

    With regard to the mission sets, I was referencing AFI 32-3001 which outlines Air Force EOD’s “mission areas”. They are: Aerospace Vehicle Launch and Recovery, Force Protection, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Nuclear Weapons Accident/Incident, UXO Recovery Operations, Operational Range Clearances, Mortuary Support, Federal/Civil Support and Base Populace Training. One issue remains consistent among them all. EOD is either described in a emergency response or advise and train capacity. Air Force EOD has always had the ability to collect foreign ordnance and devices. However, the majority of this capability was focused on state-actors and manufactured weaponry. Weapons technical intelligence today often demands operational capabilities (i.e. TICs, interrogations, air assaults) in order to access and conduct exploitation. These are beyond what is currently described in AF publications.

    Weapons technical intelligence in the form of JIEDDO, etc. has only recently been organized as a result of informal information sharing that begun as a means for EOD techs operating across a joint battlefield to survive. It enables the attack the network capability by exploiting weapons, forensics and tactics of the asymmetric enemy. No one but EOD is trained or authorized to collect it on the battlefield, except in limited situations where strict guidelines apply. An asymmetric enemy operates in any environment, using any material available. That means an EOD tech must be capable of accessing it via any means available and be trained well enough to be the first on-site and collect all evidence. The enemy thinks in terms of small unit tactics. Evidence is the device, the tactical scenario and the interviews. Air Force EOD has done this thousands of times in Iraq and Afghanistan and the CCIRs fulfilled have had impact around the world. Yet, it isn’t written in the latest Force Protection doctrine (EOD is barely mentioned) and it isn’t in AF Expeditionary Engineering.

    The current concept of Air Force EOD is as a passive Base Defense Force. This is because we are assigned to a passive Base Defense Squadron. Civil Engineers build structural defenses. Fire is an internal base protection asset. EM has no reason to leave the base and might as well be entirely civilian. The EOD mission is fundamentally different. CE’s force protection focus is more about compliance with AFIMS and Homeland Security than attacking the network by seizing a cache of ammonium nitrate by air insertion in Afghanistan. EOD must maintain its operational, counter-IED capability. IEDs are the new norm and EOD is the best counterattack. IEDs are already being produced by state actors because they are much more effective than conventional weaponry against a country like the United States. I’m not saying we should hang up our F-16s by any means, but we might want to keep our options open for the next conflict. If we aren’t anticipating the enemy, we’re losing. Think about it. Nobody turned in their tanks for horses because that was what some book had written it. They rewrote the book.

  21. EOD SNCO says:

    Some references for those who quote references:

    http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA495155&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

    “Combat-support personnel who are inadequately trained, ineffectively organized, or insufficiently resourced will ultimately cause combat-operations functions to fail. Continued allowance of an ill-structured support force—disguised by the ILO myth and sustained by the heroic efforts of today’s Airmen, sailors, soldiers, and marines—gambles away our capability for the next war to hit America’s doorstep.”

    http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA439510&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

    The inadequacy of the current Air Base Defense paradigm

    http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA416433&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

    http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA428669&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

    Army EOD transformation in an Emerging Battlefield Environment
    –Army is used due to a lack of AF material (and EOD staff level officers)

    http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA496990&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

    “Some amazing progress has been made in Iraq in reducing the strategic influence of the IED. Few could have predicted the scope of the problem that we would face in Iraq. Hammes asserts that DoD had “gravitated to a high-tech version of war” and was thoroughly unprepared to deal with the human focused fourth-generation warfare (4GW) we face in Iraq.
    Leveraging our technological advantages while bolstering our human
    centric COIN skills will continue to be a challenge for our forces, but will ensure our success in these types of operations. Fortunately, it seems DoD was able to evolve, as seen through its embracing of COIN in Iraq; however, DoD’s Joint Vision 2020 is still remarkably technology focused and leaves very little emphasis on what will likely be the most common type of conflict we will face: Irregular Warfare. If Afghanistan is any indicator, our enemies will continue to use asymmetric strategies to compensate against our strengths. With the steadily rising numbers of IED attacks and corresponding casualties in Afghanistan, it is apparent that the IED will be foremost among our enemies’ methods of fighting in the future. Gaining a thorough understanding of the IED as a weapon of strategic influence is vital to prepare us for future Irregular Warfare engagements.”

    ONE FINAL NOTE: Winning today’s fight and successfully planning for tomorrow’s operational requirements is far more valuable than attempting to reconstitute forces that have adapted to the current operating environment back into their previous operational doctrine.

  22. Johca says:

    I have no disagreement with the clarification and with regard to the mission sets disclosed in AFI 32-3001 it is echoed in the Joint Publication 3-4. This joint publication specifically mentions EOD’s force protection role, but it also delineates functional demarcation of engineering capability each service provides (EOD is an engineering capability).

    All the Services (Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines) consider EOD to be an engineering asset and organize these assets into units based on their primary function. The primary tasking for Air Force engineers is to enable rapid global mobility for airlift, bombers, fighters, and to support other manned and unmanned aerial weapon systems. Although Air Force has Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force [Prime BEEF] and Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer [RED HORSE] units to provide a broad array of general and geospatial engineering capabilities. The primary tasking for Air Force engineers is to enable rapid global mobility for airlift, bombers, fighters, and to support other manned and unmanned aerial weapon systems. It is the Army, Navy, and marines that are organized to provide combat engineering. Ref Joint Pub 3-4.

    Consequently AF EOD lacks a primary Service Air Force Function) responsibility to provide combat commands (AFRICOM, CENTCOM, EUCOM, JFCOM, NORTHCOM, PACOM, SOUTHCOM, STRATCOM, TRANCOM and USSOCOM) ground combat on the forward or behind enemy lines EOD assets or capability. This does not mean AF EOD cannot be trained and qualified to do such, but AF EOD is not written contingency and war plans to do such as the Air Force is not funded or expected to provide combat engineering capability other than Prime Beef and RED Horse to support combat air forces operations. Moving AF EOD out of CE organization into another functional area or establishing an AF EOD Field Operating Agency will not chance AF EODs force listing and primary mission function role utilization.

    In regards to “Weapons technical intelligence in the form of JIEDDO, etc. has only recently been organized as a result of informal information sharing that begun as a means for EOD techs operating across a joint battlefield to survive” AF EOD functional managers in HQ MAJCOM and HQ USAF need to sole search and tell the good and bad as to why certain functional need responsibilities were pushed aside or ignored as not needed during the 1970s and 1980s. This unfortunately was a trend of many functional managers of many other AFSCs during the same during this time period. I can mention several specific examples of several AFSCs besides EOD.

    However “The enemy thinks in terms of small unit tactics. Evidence is the device, the tactical scenario and the interviews. Air Force EOD has done this thousands of times in Iraq and Afghanistan and the CCIRs fulfilled have had impact around the world. Yet, it isn’t written in the latest Force Protection doctrine (EOD is barely mentioned) and it isn’t in AF Expeditionary Engineering.” Show a significant unawareness of Force Protection Doctrine and the tactical scenario mission need of EOD tech must be capable of accessing it via any means available and be trained well enough to be the first on-site and collect all evidence. First off this is not an always must happen necessity and secondly when the necessity to do such Engineer Reconnaissance exists it has been done by a mix of expertise existing before WWII ended.

    Yes Air Force EOD’s “mission areas” are: Aerospace Vehicle Launch and Recovery, Force Protection, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Nuclear Weapons Accident/Incident, UXO Recovery Operations, Operational Range Clearances, Mortuary Support, Federal/Civil Support and Base Populace Training. But her again civil support has Service specific delineation and demarcations of how, when and who get the mission tasking through Natio9nal Command Authority and the combat commands. Installation and wing commander authority to approve and execute operation off of installation/garrison is limited. Here again a Field Operating Agency will not change asset and resource tasking and selecting to execute a mission or operation and this includes support of civilian law enforcement and disaster response activities.

    Here is an Air Force Specialty description and note the often not paid attention to mission need inclusion of “moves materiel”. I can say with certainty if EOD was participating in any such moves materiel level operates in the six geographic disciplines: mountain, desert, arctic, urban, jungle and water, day or night, to include friendly, denied, hostile, or sensitive areas of mission environment the mix of experience sent in wasn’t AF EOD. AF EOD as career field does not require all members of speciality to have the level of tactical skills and the team’s units that do to the best of my awareness are not AF EOD units/teams.

    Specialty Summary. Performs, plans, leads, supervises, instructs, and evaluates pararescue activities. Performs as the essential surface, air link in Personnel Recovery (PR) and materiel recovery by functioning as the rescue and recovery specialist on flying status as mission crew or as surface elements. Provides rapid response capability and operates in the six geographic disciplines: mountain, desert, arctic, urban, jungle and water, day or night, to include friendly, denied, hostile, or sensitive areas. Provides assistance in and performs survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE). Provides emergency trauma and field medical care, and security. Moves recovered personnel and materiel to safety or friendly control when recovery by aircraft is not possible. Related DoD Occupational Subgroup: 105000.

    FYI here AF EOD’s:

    Specialty Summary. Performs, supervises, and manages explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) operations. Locates, identifies, disarms, neutralizes, recovers, and disposes of hazardous explosives; conventional, chemical, biological, incendiary, and nuclear ordnance; and criminal or terrorist devices. Related DoD Occupational Subgroup: 143100.

  23. Johca says:

    Most current EOD specialty description is:

    Specialty Summary. Performs, supervises and manages explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) operations to protect people, resources, and the environment from the effects of hazardous explosive ordnance and IEDs, including weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Detects, identifies, renders safe, recovers, and disposes of conventional, incendiary, chemical, biological, and nuclear ordnance delivered or placed by enemy forces and US and allied ordnance made dangerous by accident or other circumstance. Renders safe and disposes of criminal/terrorist improvised explosive devices. Other duties include: supporting the United States Secret Service for the protection of the President, Vice President and other dignitaries; providing support to Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies concerning EOD matters when determined to be in the interest of public safety; supporting specialized Joint Service Task Force operations; instructing base and community members on ordnance recognition skills and improvised explosive device countermeasures; and providing the hazardous materials (HAZMAT) response capability for incidents involving explosive ordnance. Related DoD Occupational Subgroup: 143100.

  24. EOD SNCO says:

    I must agree your coherence is difficult to follow at times. But, I will continue for a time because I am curious what non-EOD folks believe. Forgive me if I simply tire and quit. Unfortunately, EOD does tend to exclude ourselves from external input, a position that has probably led to ignorance in regard to what we actually do. Please extend your commentary in future posts rather than relying on cut and paste. I do value your opinions.

    Let’s discuss priorities. The stated priorities of the Air Force are: Nuke Ops, Joint/Coalition Partnering, Airmen/Families, Modernization of Organizations/Training/Equipment and Aquisition Excellence. Within these priorities, EOD has played a significant role. First, EOD hasn’t really ever had issue with Nuke Ops and we continue to develop our capabilities. We should develop further our capability as a counter-proliferation asset. Second, EOD is joint. You have probably never lived on a FOB, but 60-70% of our Airmen have been on back-to-back deployments for the last 7-8 years. Third, our Airmen/Families have sacrificed significantly without much more than a hospital photo op for years. The long-term effects of insufficient medical care will undoubtedly be an issue and divorce is rampant through our community. Fourth, we’ve received modern equipment. In that respect, we’re doing well. But our training fails to meet the need of Airmen who routinely get placed in front of a stack to clear a building of IEDs and terrorists. Hell, we have trouble maintaining AF weapons qualification, let alone the advanced tactics needed to operate alongside those we support. Our organizational construct has already been covered. One thought to add…many EOD Airmen have never been assigned to a CE squadron in a deployed environment. What does that say about our operational mission? Fifth, well, acquisition isn’t really our focus. For the most part, we’ve received what we asked for. We’re trying to fix our inventories after years of high ops tempo for accountability. If these are the priorities, why is it that in three of the five, EOD is suffering significantly?

    Let’s talk about the doctrine. The Air Force must maintain and develop a capable air and space force as you mentioned. That is the basis for having an Air Force. But, since Vietnam, many have stated that holding fast and compartmentalizing that mission is detrimental to National Strategy. We must incorporate Airmen into Joint Operations, whether they are performing air and space missions or not. Some career fields have an inherent and specific Air Force function. Pilots, maintainers, etc. Inserting those functions exactly as defined within aerospace terminology as part of the greater DoD capability makes sense.

    Others have a Joint function. PJs are damn good at rescuing isolated and injured personnel. They don’t just rescue pilots so that airplanes can start flying again. The Joint fight is the Air Force fight and the sooner we recognize and share our capabilities with the Joint Force, the better. Former Special Assistant to the CSAF, Thomas Ehrhard, said,

    “Air Force leaders must begin to develop a set of alternative operational concepts that stake out important perspectives on the entire spectrum of joint military operations, not just ones relating to air and space. Four strong candidate mission areas for conceptual innovation are: highend, asymmetric warfare; irregular warfare; counter-proliferation; and homeland defense (2009).”

    Retrieved from: http://tinyurl.com/d6umtdv

    I’ll repeat one of my previous remarks. Air Force EOD is nearly one third of the DoD EOD inventory. The DoD inventory was so stretched in 2005 that it required a Congressional review so that battlespace commanders could operate in an asymmetric environment. The idea of dismantling that capability because you can’t put an airplane in the middle of it is pretty ridiculous.

    Your presentation of doctrine that states EOD must fall within the Engineering function is flawed because you have no battlefield frame of reference. Air Force Engineers have little to do with the Army concept of a Combat Engineer. Civil Engineers do amazing things every day building infrastructure in mostly permissive environments. (By the way, I have serious admiration for the work ethic and accomplishments of CE. EOD just doesn’t belong.) Combat engineers have no requirement to be a certified engineer and enable the movement of maneuver forces by destroying obstacles and building expedient transit structures. Combat Engineers will tell you every day that they can clear IEDs because IEDs are the same as minefields. EOD techs don’t look at an IED as an obstacle. EOD looks at the details that only an EOD tech would recognize and compares years of academic and field experience to develop a terrorist’s IED signature profile. The IED fight is fundamentally different. Even OSI and battalion S2s have only basic concepts about IED technical intelligence. I know. I’ve proven them wrong. Conversely, I know little about counterintelligence. We each have our specialties.

    With regard to your barely decipherable statements in the last paragraph, I am assuming you are trying to state that EOD is not able to move independently of an escort force. I would counter that hundreds of operations have required EOD SSgts to be inserted with foreign forces by helicopter to locations 10kms from a firebase where they have disarmed multiple devices and directed site exploitation in a nonpermissive environment and then rucked their comm, explosives, ammunition, food and water back with remarkable skill and valor. And they did it shooting, moving and communicating their way back without the required training in weapons or tactics. If given the proper classification and training priority, I’m pretty sure an AF EOD operator could operate independently. Regardless, many operations involving Tier 1 forces utilize augmentation forces for a variety of reasons. With regard to the geographic disciplines, it is simply a matter of training and prioritization. PJs fight their way in to rescue people. EOD fights there way in to seize and exploit terrorist devices. By the way, I know what my specialty is.

    The problem here is that AF EOD has been operating outside of the Air Force’s view for the last decade. Warfare has changed during that decade. AF EOD, in turn, is a secretive lot that rarely shares our experiences because we don’t want the other side to know how we operate. Additionally, after 9/11, a huge focus was placed on WMDs and Homeland Security. Emergency Management (who we somehow fall under at the Pentagon), is focused on EOD’s capabilities as they relate to Base Defense and Homeland Security. EOD, however, has a unique wartime mission that has expanded with the use of IEDs. Both should be maintained. EM, CE and the Air Force don’t understand why it matters so much to develop the counter-IED mission because they can’t relate. Here’s a thought…exploit the networks that manufacture and launch improvised rockets and mortars at airbases. In that context, it does relate. Regardless, the Joint Service EOD function cannot afford to exclude AF EOD from its inventory of counter-IED specialists. It is a mission that has strategic implications. The DNA from IEDs collected by AF EOD techs in Afghanistan may well prevent entry to the next would-be 9/11 terrorist.

  25. Johca says:

    I’m not in disagreement with AF EOD participating in joint operations and need to be better trained to further capability as a counter-proliferation asset, but there is some hedging of utilization statistics.

    The number of EOD filling joint or Non-Standard Sourcing Solution tasking (in-lieu-of, adhoc, augmenting sister service) is a smaller percentage of the mission requirements being filled. Considering the home station EOD support requirement does not go away and temporary medical profiles I’m sure there is a lot of filling of every other rotation happening among the approximate 940 EOD members the Air Force has.

    The one question demanding most response concerns the assertion” many EOD Airmen have never been assigned to a CE squadron in a deployed environment” followed by the question “What does that say about our operational mission”? In response to this my answer is it says nothing of type of offensive, defensive, or other support mission role utilization or operational environment being on the ground battlefield in an active combat zone (in active ground direct combat).

    The generalized assertion of deployed and filling a in-lieu-of, adhoc, augmenting sister service requirement in a sister service unit can be claimed by members of other Air Force career fields, consequently the better evidence focuses on Operational Suitability which Includes utility, lethality, operability, interoperability, dependability, survivability, and habitability.

    Determining utility, lethality, operability, interoperability, dependability, survivability, and habitability requirements of a career field begins with mission need. The primary mission need for AF EOD is force protection.

    Force protection focuses on preserving fighting potential. There are several Air Force AFSCs besides Air Force Security Forces and Air Force EOD that hang purpose of capability being inclusive of force protection, but Security Forces is the only Air Force career field where all members are (supposedly) expected to participate in operations to use force up to and including deadly use of force.

    The utility of members of AF EOD in most combat incidents is a defensive response to a found ordinance or munitions device of some sort. Although as mentioned AF EOD is about one-third of the joint capability deployment operability and interoperability combined a much lower percentage of the one-third capability (and significant smaller percentage of 60-70% of our Airmen have been on back-to-back deployments for the last 7-8 years) get tasked to participate in offensive activities such as to interdict enemy capabilities, conduct an attack/raid, or to conduct a strategic attack. Most outside the wire missions result from filling a Non-Standard Sourcing Solution requirement and not a standard force or joint tasking.

    Operability, interoperability, dependability, survivability, and habitability (overall adaptability into the physical operational environment) is all controlled by Air Force Career Field Managers (AFCFM), MAJCOM Functional Area Managers (FAM), Subject Matter Experts (SME), and AETC training personnel that determine career ladder training requirements.

    Unfortunately nowhere in AF EOD specialty description, EOD Career Field Education Training Plan, Air Force Instructions, Air Force Doctrine or Joint publications is it identified all members of AF EOD career field performing duties of the career field are expected to be (will be) employed (participate in performance of duties) pertinent to movement and maneuver as a tactical Force asset on the forward ground battlefield.

    An Air Force career field exists to allow the development of a strategy that facilitates management of critical skills, standardized training, retention, capability accountability and career progression. All this is owned by the EOD career field during Utilization and Training Workshops (U&TW). If “training fails to meet the need of Airmen who routinely get placed in front of a stack to clear a building of IEDs and terrorists” the accountability rests with EOD Air Force Career Field Managers (AFCFM), EOD MAJCOM Functional Area Managers (FAM), EOD Subject Matter Experts (SME), and EOD AETC training personnel that determine career ladder training requirements.

    The most current EOD CFETP, 1 Nov 2011, fails to require a single required core combat skill for award and retention of EOD AFSC at any skill level. No land navigation, no immediate action survival skills, no mission planning and executing skills (warning orders, terrain and situation studies, Analyze infiltration and exfiltration requirements, SERE skills, conduct objective area reconnaissance and many more skill tasks).

    Operability, interoperability, dependability, survivability, and habitability (overall adaptability into the physical operational environment) never has and never will be determined by an airplane sitting on the ground in the middle if the incident being responded to. Where a sitting on the ground or flying overhead airplane is or isn’t does not affect the level or quality of force protection capability mission need AF EOD is expected to provide.

    Operability, interoperability, dependability, survivability, and habitability (overall adaptability into the physical operational environment) is proficiency in required core skills regardless of career field is a unit responsibility. Unit reliability in training its EOD members is evident of two training range mishaps during 2010 with one person killed and two significantly injured is attributed safety guideline not being followed and to lack of training and lack of continuity for basic EOD skills.”

    While EOD has ability to look at the details that only an EOD tech would recognize and compares years of academic and field experience to develop a terrorist’s IED signature profile. The developing the IED profile signature is not a necessity for every IED discovered. In many cases risk assessment during is clear the area and blow the IED up in-place as law enforcement criminal evidence to prosecute somebody on their bomb building profile is not the military intelligence needed.

    Perhaps AF EOD is a secretive lot that rarely shares our experiences because we don’t want the other side to know how we operate, but “hundreds of operations have required EOD SSgts to be inserted with foreign forces by helicopter to locations 10kms from a firebase” as evidence of operating independently or autonomously is an embellishment. Whether sister service forces or foreign force one force was accompanying the other. Assisting, guiding, interpreting, or whatever the presence of the foreign forces increase survivability of all involved in the operation. But it’s good to hear AF EOD as a career field is more secretive and at same qualification proficiency level as some Naval special warfare EOD teams to provide direct support on the forward battlefield.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kTViuU3cRw

    • EOMFD says:

      What you’ve just said … is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  26. EOD SNCO says:

    I suggest you request summary operational data from AFCESA. I do have access and, more importantly, have spent considerable time both deployed and with those who have been conducting the missions I described. I’ll let the data speak for itself. You should spend an afternoon listening to the experiences of EOD Airmen wherever you are. Those experiences mean considerably more than the data anyway.

    Balad…I won’t say more than that I can pick any number of Security Forces incidents and apply them generally to your career field. Thousands of EOD operations have been conducted strictly according to safety regulations. They didn’t make the Air Force Times.

    With regard to training…you essentially make my point. Despite thousands of operations requiring the use of “land navigation, immediate action survival skills, mission planning and executing skills (warning orders, terrain and situation studies, Analyze infiltration and exfiltration requirements, SERE skills, conduct objective area reconnaissance and many more skill tasks),” there is little to no reflection in what we require of our EOD Airmen, except just-in-time training. Every year, they receive a crash course just before deploying. Because they are heavily adaptable and skilled critical thinkers, they’ve managed. If their lives are at stake, and they are continuously performing the tasks as JET Airmen every year for their entire career, why isn’t it a part of their career development? Because people keep saying that’s not their real job.

    Weapons intelligence…its a CCIR. Blow-and-go is the combat engineer mentality that only accomplishes tactical objectives. Unless I’m operating in a tactically non-permissive environment, or I’m putting entirely too many lives at risk, I’ve always tried my best to collect intelligence because it could prevent today’s amateur from becoming tomorrow’s Ramzi Yousef. You have to be able to apply strategic goals on the battlefield in addition to quoting them.

    As far as maintaining a level of proficiency in tactics equal or better than the Navy EOD special warfare teams…I would guess you know nothing about those teams. I won’t claim anyone not assigned to a spec warfare unit and actually performing duties both in-garrison and deployed has the same proficiency. Tactics and marksmanship requires consistent training, which I have already stated is inadequate. What I will say is that AF EOD has performed remarkably, despite a lack of training, when required as the only team available to foreign and domestic special warfare units. As part of an assault team, they were expected to be assets rather than liabilities, and so participated in direct action with their team. Because so many operations occur in the AOR, that scenario has occurred hundreds of times and, in each case, AF EOD was proficient enough to receive gratitude from those they supported. If there is a mission need and current capacity is insufficient, shouldn’t we properly develop those who have proven themselves capable?

  27. Johca says:

    I agree AF EOD has performed remarkably, despite a lack of training. I agree with in the joint EOD capability AF EOD as a career field has a human performance capability cap resulting from training deficiencies and this gap needs to be addressed.

    My perspective point of discussion pertinent to the capability cap is improved reliability and dependability in mission performance isn’t necessarily deployment/employment of the new capability or result in changing tactics, utilization and decision-making. Addressing and correcting such deficiencies also does not depend on the approval/disapproval of beret uniform or being designated a battlefield airman AFSC.

    Ad hoc capability utilization and participation in events by themselves do not drive changes to an AFSC or unit capability.

    The beret uniform discussion does not and should not impact task performance or capability utilization, but unfortunately AF EOD has entangled its desire for a beret uniform in such a way for the past two years and thus I’m answering two separate and distinct subjects in my responses. How and why AF EOD deserves or doesn’t deserve a distinctive beret uniform has nothing to do with how and why other career fields got a beret uniform approved and authorized as each had differing justification reasoning based on the capability the AFSC provides and the typical utilization of all members of the career field regardless of gender mix, rank, skill level, duty position and base/unit of assignment.

    Senior AF EOD leaders have no reluctance in disparaging Security Forces, the Air Force’s civil engineering functional area or even disparaging my poor writing elegance abilities to include asserting my military back ground is Air Force Security Forces and knowing nothing about “Navy EOD special warfare teams” and essentially have little experience in an operational environment of needing being able to recognize IEDs, booby traps and similar hazards and subsequently implement appropriate immediate actions.

    My 23 year active duty Air Force enlisted military background wasn’t as a member of the USAF Security Forces, EOD or Munitions career fields but my duties did get me involved in having to know quite a bit about munitions, booby traps and similar hazards initially to avoid getting myself blown-up but eventually as a team leader to direct tactical team in taking appropriate actions.

    Ruminating operational data is pointless as very few reading and following this conversation have access to read the good and the bad of the data. However the complete accident investigation report for the Ballad event is here http://www.afmc.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-110304-019.pdf and it’s presented not as an example of the bad but rather disclosure of not every death, loss of limb, or serious injury in the area of operations EOD is hanging its beret justification on is result of participating in ground combat reconnaissance or enemy action or activity caused. It also gives example of the hazards present in the rendering safe and clearing of hazardous ordnance in a permissive no enemy present environment.

    Operational military intelligence is something EOD contributes to. It includes provide training to military and civilian personnel on ordnance and bomb search/threat procedures. Air Force EOD traditionally and historically however has not participated in long-range air operations having surface operations involving the Air Force’s core mission functions of Special Operations and Personnel Recovery. In such operational environment each team member of such small tactical teams must be capable of performing independently of being able to recognize IEDs, booby traps and similar hazards. In doing so they must be able to take certain immediate actions especially if a trip wire or other trigger is encountered and consider option on how to continue to successfully execute the mission. While I certainly agree and support AF EOD needs to have a stronger operability and interoperability capability available this information is provided as example of AF EOD contributes but the necessity to be there participating tactically in the operational ground combat environment is not an absolute go/no-go must to executing a mission and successfully completing it.

    I agree AF EOD has performed remarkably, despite a lack of training, when required as the only team available to foreign and domestic special warfare units. However participating with foreign and domestic special warfare units is not disclosing the operational environment or the level of utilization. Domestic special warfare units are also ambiguous as these units are not necessarily tactical forces or even military armed forces. Most of these special units fall under operation control of Department of Homeland Security and/or US Northern Command. The required level of human performance capability skills and qualifications of AF members filling such positions are more determined by a unit mission-essential tasks list requiring a level and range of skill proficiencies above and beyond AF EOD’s required all members of the career field core skills.

    AF EOD manning authorizations are in the Air Force Civil Engineering functional area and CE units as Air Force civil engineering is unable to access the airfield, repair critical sortie-generation facilities and recover taxiways or runways until after EOD eliminates the ordnance and munitions threat to airfield operations. AF EOD would need to stand up force projection units and the Department of the Air Force or an Air Force expeditionary Wing will get the funding to do this from where? This BTW is what directly affects deployment/employment of the new capability or result in changing tactics, utilization and decision-making which if it involves all members of the career field gets implemented in the CFETP.

    A beret uniform for all members of an Air Force career field/specialty is about the level of human performance capability all members of the career field participate in equally providing.

    The justification is about all members regardless of major command or unit or regular (active duty) or reserve (AF Reserve/Air Guard) status being trained and qualified to execute mission regardless of the mission objective and the operational environment. The standard means all are all members holding AFSC and performing duties of AFSC are at all times can be plugged in with no special train-up training (reference crash course just before deploying versus being proficient in core skills) to participate and contribute in providing exact same core skill level of operability and interoperability.

    It is the level of all members of the career field obtaining and sustaining a standardized human performance capability of operability, interoperability, dependability, survivability, and habitability (overall adaptability into the physical operational environment) and not why other care field are less deserving of the beret uniform or poor leadership image of flag officers wearing flight suit uniform, or for members of AF EOD to be looked at as being warriors when attending in-resident PME courses.

    EOD duties were acknowledged as being dangerous in 1941 and the being dangerous resulted in the joint service (identical for all branches of service) basic EOD duty badge being designed and approved ca. 1956/7. The Air Force actually considers it a duty badge rather than a just being an occupational badge as when filling an active EOD billet the EOD badge takes precedence over the CE Craftsman badge (ref AFI 36-2903, para 10.4.18.). Thus AF EOD has additional career field burden of demonstrating how and why the required level of human performance capability skills and qualifications is stronger, better, or more unique than skills and qualification normally associated with those of EOD members of sister services performing similar EOD duties. Additionally level of AF EOD capability utilization would need unit-to-unit consistency to include all or most members of the AF EOD career field possessing stronger, better, or greater collection of unique human performance skill proficiencies and skill task qualifications than normally associated with those of EOD members of sister services.

  28. Johca says:

    The referenced article “Buried Bombs can be destroyed, but not defeated” continues the myth the IED threat is a recent asymmetrical warfare tactic of choice. High explosives as a choice of guerrilla warfare tactics was actually developed in the CENTCOM area of operation in the aftermath of WW 1.

    Such high explosive guerrilla warfare tactics currently referred to as IEDs was introduced by Colonel T. E. Lawrence, better known as “Lawrence of Arabia” (and his mentor Major Herbert Garland , a British scientist turned soldier during WW I) during the Arab insurgency against the Ottoman Empire.

    The tactics have not changed, but the technology and the availability of technology has. There is also an abundant availability of materials to build such devices in the region too. The IED tactics also have no selectivity in targeting only EOD personnel or killing only EOD personnel.

    What also has not changed on the battlefield is direct action tactical operations cannot and do not stop to wait for EOD arrive. Consequently many combat occupations do get training on how to neutralize explosive hazards. In this regard the USMC states it best: “The EOD mission is to provide a capability to neutralize the hazards associated with explosive ordnance that are beyond the normal capabilities of other specialties, and present a threat to operations, installations, personnel, and material.”

    The focus of “USAF EOD Beret Nixed” which is the focus point of discussion unfortunately is on the role and mission utilization of AF EOD and capability overlaps and/or redundancies with sister services EOD role and mission utilization and being beret uniform elite. While I have no disagreement with bolstering all EOD being a good idea, it still comes down to the level of human performance capability all members of EOD provide and capability typical AF EOD unit/Team is utilized to provide resulting in standardized overlap and redundancy of human performance capability regardless of unit and duty assignment.

    Any AF EOD outside the wire all member of the career field shift from vehicle response to participating in combat patrol on foot is hindered by AF EOD mission areas outlined in AFI 32-3001. It should be noted it expresses specific force protection policy of AF “EOD teams do not perform searches in support of bomb-threats.”

    The other deterrence is AF EOD’s physical profile and fitness standards do not overlap the standards of sister service EOD’s standards. The Air Force EOD PULHES minimum is 111131 whereas the sister services PULHES minimum is 111121. The AF EOD PAST standard is not exactly an overlap standard either. It’s not to helpful either to advertise in recruiting videos as AF EOD career field being the safest job to have in the Air Force. Reference http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mk_g5vDJW5w between 6:20 and 6:40 where an AF EOD NCO states performing AF EOD duties is one of the safest jobs in the Air Force.

  29. EOD SNCO says:

    The shift already happened. AF EOD is dismounted in Afghanistan today and has been for some time. I don’t know too many door kickers that wouldn’t want an EOD tech along if available and tactically proficient enough to carry out the mission. Having EOD along prevents waiting for them when blow-and-go doesn’t fit the mission profile. And Navy EOD isn’t the only ones doing those operations. I know. I’ve spent 24 of the last 48 months in both Iraq and Afghanistan. And you?

    While you might have encountered an IED during some or most of your operations and placed a hasty charge, every operation I have conducted required some form of intimate contact with the IED and every secondary, tertiary around it. You see it as an obstacle to your tactical mission. You’ve had to wait for an EOD team at some point in your career and you didn’t think it was right. Did you ever wonder who directed you to wait? Some fairly high-level mission directives. It wasn’t because they needed someone to show up and throw C4 on it. It was a chance to utilize today’s latest technology to track and capture terrorists that are a strategic threat. That’s were you miss the point. Lawrence of Arabia had to overcome improvised devices with very basic means. They were only concerned with battlefield obstacles. We have JIEDDO and $3B worth of the world’s most advanced defense industry. We’re also fighting a network of terrorists that operate around the world.

    Many of my close friends have bled and died conducting EOD operations. Your statement that their deaths were due to anything less than heroic is disgraceful. All 17 KIAs died in Afghanistan or Iraq conducting EOD operations in non-permissive environments. They did the absolute best they could despite the failure of so many like you who fail to recognize them, whether for their experiences or with a Beret.

    I don’t know why you are so adamantly against developing AF EOD to be a greater asset to commanders and, more importantly, come home alive. You stake your claim on the past and what is written in stone. I see an opportunity for Airmen to excel in a skill set desperately needed in Afghanistan to counter the enemy’s most deadly weapon.

  30. Johca says:

    I lack attitude of being unyielding of AF EOD being a greater asset to commanders or having greater duty performing survivability to come home alive with all limbs and body parts. I’m also not presuming the AF EOD mission role and utilization is reliant on past written in stone doctrine and policies. You are focusing on the future explosive disposal services AF EOD should provide and I’m focusing on what services as a career field EOD is currently expected to provide and how the expected service provided differs in the real world as it exists compared to Amy, Navy, and Marine EOD career fields and units. AF EOD as a capability is either balanced or united in skill sets and capability with the EOD occupations of sister services or it isn’t.

    AF EOD CFETP, AFIs, Air Force Doctrine and other policies are all recently 2011 published. These role and mission policies and human performance standards directly influence the operational utilization of AF EOD to include AF EOD skill sets relied on by commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the moment all these policies and human performance standards certainly-so indicate certain small team tactical and combat operations are and will remain outside the scope of required core competencies for AF EOD personnel.

    I have not spent 24 of the last 48 months in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but you being there offer no certainty of what you were or were not doing there. It is nothing more than a deceitful appeal having purpose to divert from discussing truths and facts to I’m being irresponsible and heartlessly offensive. My being or not being there doesn’t settle career field role and mission utilization policy or career field human performance standards being discussed, and neither does your being there or not being there transform expand AF EOD career field into being a more all-embracing across every duty position explosive disposal service provider than it currently is.

    The current EOD SPECIALIST VOLUNTEER fact sheet the Air Force Recruiting Service has recruits sign to get an AF EOD GTEP contract states “I understand that primary EOD Specialist duties do not include direct combat (engaging an enemy face-to-face); however, EOD Specialists do deploy to combat zones throughout the world and as a result may be exposed to threatening combat situations.” This points towards Air Force doctrine, policy and human performance standard’s lacking core skill requirement for all members member of the AF EOD career field requirement to sustain at all times Common Battlefield Airman Training (CBAT) qualifications. These facts are not presented as a matter of case close, but rather as information that has a direct bearing on mission role and utilization skill proficiencies to understand why, what, where, when and how AF EOD contributes and participates as an element of the collection of available to utilize EOD capability.

    EOD as an occupation is a collection of Service (Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine), Coast Guard and federal, state, local and international law enforcement capabilities each having a different thrust of primary servicing ratio and response times for operations and missions being supported. It also results in differing required core competencies at unit/team level or at all member of occupation level. Regardless EOD clearance teams are scarce and the primary common skill set is defusing explosive and ordnance devices or blow them up safely.

    No matter the level of joint capability AF EOD provides, the AF EOD service provided lacks primary purpose of delivering deliver EOD support as members of a combat support element to Army or Marine infantry maneuvering on the ground battlefield. Even members of the AF EOD community are in disagreement of what AF EOD should transform into being and how much it should transform as most didn’t enlist to be infantry support assets maneuvering 24/7 on the ground battle field for the duration of a deployment. Strengthening and expanding all members of AF EOD career field core skill requirements does not necessarily increase availability or change primary purpose of capability utilization.

    Biometric-based and Post Blast investigation training is not the skill set ground combatants in the tactical environment depend upon most to keep them alive. Neither is it AF EOD responding with robots and other high tech equipment. They want to know what devices and triggering mechanisms to lookout for, how to figure out the safe distances to be from such devices when they find them and few other techniques on how to disengage once the trip device or triggering mechanism is encountered. Finger prints and DNA of the bomber does not keep the person coming into kill zone proximity of the explosive device alive. This and other post blast investigation is of much lesser priority on the ground battlefield.

    I provided the background history of high explosive guerrilla warfare tactics being developed in the 1920s to counter premise IED tactics is some new threat. I should have included the WWII event of the “Sub that Sank a Train” http://www.homeofheroes.com/profiles/profiles_fluckey.html as it gives example of how easy it is to improvise an explosive and not only sabotage a section of railroad track but use pressure switch trigger so that the train set off the explosion. The point being it is extremely difficult to search out and find an explosive before it explodes and to have eyes everywhere to watch for such devices to be planted.

    I suppose I ought to have provided other historical background information of events during the 1920s of explosive devices directed at civilians except it was called an anarchists movement rather than a terrorist movement. Let’s not also forget the Weather Underground use of bombs that involved targeting civilians during the 1960s and 1970s although the political correct excuse is the bombs were directed at political figures and government institutions and not civilians. Regardless Air Force EOD’s capability purpose is not to conduct or participate in domestic law enforcement criminal investigation, but to safely defuse explosive and ordnance devices or blow them up safely.

    In the late 1910’s to the early 1920’s the immigrant anarchists movement had become violently opposed to the conservative government. This was expressed by the numerous bombings. A pamphlet was found at each of the bombings, called the “Plain Words” document, calling for the proletariat to rise up and overthrow the government. This document was traced to a small print shop in Brooklyn.

    For example, at noon on September 16, 1920, a horse drawn buggy loaded with 100 pounds of dynamite and 500 pounds of cast- iron slugs exploded across the street from the J.P. Morgan bank headquarters in downtown Manhattan, New York. The explosion blew out windows for blocks around, killed 30 immediately, injured hundreds of others and completely destroyed the interior of the Morgan building. Those responsible were never found, but evidence—in the form of a warning note found in a mail box at a nearby office building the day after the attack said: “Remember. We will not tolerate any longer. Free the political prisoners or it will be death for all of you. American Anarchist Fighters!”

    So how do you bring together all members of AF EOD’s capability purpose of proficiently being elite autonomous small tactical teams when nothing is in official coordination and approval channels for AF EOD becoming such anytime in the future?

    This BTW is not me expressing opinion member of AF EOD career field are less professional or less willing to be there than members of any other AF career field. It is me discussing how and why AF EOD does have on- installation and off-installation response mission role and utilization. It is me discussing AF EOD in providing one third of the joint military capability available does not as a career field have complete and absolute overlap and redundancies in having skill sets in common with EOD capabilities sister services have existing in the larger capability asset available to combat commanders having skill sets and skill proficiencies at all times to be a small tactical team capable of executing operations and missions outside the wire without security support.
    AF EOD’s off installation mission role is secondary to it’s on-installation availability purpose. The scarcity of AF EOD teams and ground combat AF EOD units is tightly tied to responding to rather than search out and find bombs and explosives on the ground combat battlefield. Even on-installation the search for and finding is often relied on being done by members of other AFSCs such as Air Force Security Forces or aircraft maintainers and fuels specialists performing duties on the flight line.

    Is AF EOD’s primary purpose involve finding the bombers responsible or is it to keep people alive before the bomb goes boom which includes giving training to members of other AFSCs who are doing the searching or participating in performing duties that are most likely put them with no warning face-to-face with a planted bomb device that may explode at any moment? The answer is Air Force doctrine and policy certainly-so emphasizes AF EOD has having the obligation and responsibility to provide training as requested on ordnance hazards and recognition, mine awareness, terrorist bomb search procedures, and personnel protective measures to base populace. AF policies and doctrine to include joint operations doctrine give minimal if any emphasis to AF EOD performing Biometric-based and Post Blast criminal investigation duties of identifying who built the device.

    BTW presuming you are AF EOD and a SNCO your “EOD SNCO” assertion of “They did the absolute best they could despite the failure of so many like you who fail to recognize them” is extremely deceitful as I did not trivialize any death in this way and AF leader decision to disapprove the beret for the career field making claim it is elite is not failing to recognize the deaths of AF EOD members or the contributions of AF EOD members.

  31. EOD SNCO says:

    This discussion has produced many valuable insights on both sides of the debate. I think you and I can agree on the need for more substantial and standardized training to match the mission AF EOD is currently performing. Whatever your background, I will assume that it is some type of combat AFSC. Anyone who has performed combat duties in a real-world environment knows weapons and tactics are not learned on a CATM range and not sustainable if only practiced at a four-week spin-up course annually. This is my strongest point of contention. My fellow team leaders and team members are being asked to perform duties that are neither described in their doctrine nor career development. Misconceptions of how often they are performing those duties and the degree to which those duties require their proficiency have prevented them from receiving the training they need to accomplish their mission, protect themselves and bring their team home safe and sound. Far too often, commanders and decision-makers know more about what they “should be” doing that what they are actually doing due to mission demands.

    Where we disagree is the recommendation for future actions, if any. As an EOD tech, I am fully aware of the past historical uses of IEDs and explosives. It is fairly simple to make comparisons, provide anecdotal evidence and over-simplify the differences between past usage and the current threat. What you don’t account for is the proliferation of terrorist tactics across the globe. At no point in history has a global network of terrorist networks been able to pass information and tactics to each other and learn from what works and what doesn’t work. These networks also enable state and private sponsorship and logistical support. Anarchists and anti-government protesters can join a team of radical Islamists simply by finding each other in a chat room. And state sponsors can resource non-state actors just as easily to recruit and fight proxy wars. If you were an isolated rogue state, would you fight the world’s largest military with conventional or asymmetric tactics? Would you hesitate to recruit extremists who share a common enemy with you? What type of weapon has been most effective so far in countering the immense capabilities of the United States defense industrial base? So that I am clear, my position is that today’s operational environment is full of IEDs and networks of intertwined state- and non-state actors and that is where I see the need for EOD operators. The battlefield for the foreseeable future will see continued use of asymmetric tactics and weaponry. Strategists and theorists don’t refer to the current type of warfare as 4th or 5th generation warfare just to draw attention to themselves and their ideas. There is a difference and we need every operational asset at the ready in whatever environment presents a need.

    Those of us currently operating as active duty face an operational environment that is extremely dynamic and challenging. The SECDEF and Service Chiefs believe the proposed budget cuts will cripple our ability to defend the nation. The technological defenses JIEDDO has developed have proven beneficial, but depend on the products of an industrial base that faces considerably less financial support. Ultimately, those defenses don’t defeat IEDs or networks, the simply enhance protection. IEDs are easily modified, evolve quickly and include a human aspect. The best way for us to counter them is to utilize the human perspective through disablement, collection and analysis of their employment. There aren’t enough EOD techs now, in any of the Services. If we maintain the status quo or further restrict usage by emphasizing the base support or range clearance and disposal role of Air Force technicians, we will lose a military asset that was forged from the lessons already learned and, ultimately, degrade our ability to win the war. We must find ways to capitalize on our victories and further optimize the resources we already have.

    I close my commentary with you by stating that I see your perspective. I also gained some valuable insights from your considerable knowledge of doctrinal material and personal experience. At no point in our discussion have I failed to consider your point-of-view. I simply disagree and, perhaps, displayed some frustration with the status quo. Finally, I also honor your service to our Great Nation. Let those who are on the ground or in the air over hostile lands successfully accomplish their mission today and come back unharmed.

    v/r, EOD SNCO

  32. Johca says:

    I also honor your service as I do the service of all members of the AF EOD career field as I do anybody serving a military obligation.

    I share equal concern and desire all those who are on the ground or in the air over hostile lands successfully accomplish their mission today and come back unharmed.

    Merry Christmas (winter holidays) and best New Years wishes.

  33. SF Airmen says:

    In my CDCs it stated that SF members wear a beret in case of emergency so that we may be recognized as first responders.