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Air Force trains with joint, combined forces in rapid airfield damage repair

The 554th Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron hosts an exercise showcasing explosive ordnance disposal and rapid airfield damage repair capabilities and processes to other U.S. military branches and partner nations participating in Cope North 2020, at Northwest Field, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam., Feb. 13th, 2020. (U.S. Air Force courtesy video)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFNS) --

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFNS) -- “Practice makes perfect.” It’s the term that is used by many Explosive Ordnance Disposal Airmen when describing their rapid airfield damage repair, or RADR training.

This training exercise was part of exercise Cope North 2020, an annual U.S. Pacific Air Forces joint/combined, trilateral field training exercise held from Feb. 12-28, with participants from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the Royal Australian air force.

The RADR training tests both aspects of EOD clearing the runway of unexploded ordnance after an attack and is followed by the process of repairing the runway once all ordnance and explosives have been removed.

“The beauty of this exercise is that you’re not only seeing our 544th (Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron) Airmen repairing the runway,” said Master Sgt. Neil Gertiser, REDHORSE EOD contingency instructor, “you also get to see partner nations like Japan and Australia taking part and learning new skills as well.”

The primary focus of Cope North is the coordination of combined air tactics, techniques and procedures, and enhancing security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. The number of participants in the exercise is around 2,000 service members.

“We use this as a great opportunity to show our partner nations how to execute RADR operations in the hopes that when the time comes for them to repair their own runway in an emergency, they can do it,” Gertiser said.

The main idea of the EOD exercise is the quick response to an aerial attack from a foreign enemy.

“Repetition is how we’re going to get good at bouncing back from an attack,” said Staff Sgt. Adam Allen, EOD contingency skills instructor. “You keep doing things repetitively until you can do it in your sleep.”

Practicing these skills with more than one partner nation not only helps sharpen skills but also reveals faster or more efficient ways to get jobs done.

“I’ve learned a lot throughout this exercise,” Allen said. “I’m happy to be a part of an operation with this many moving parts. I’ve gotten the opportunity to see a lot of cutting edge things while sharpening my own skills.”