MacDill, TSA joint explosives training goes off with a bang

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro
  • 6th Air Mobility WIng Public Affairs
They sometimes take on the consistency of oatmeal, while other times they're pliable like putty. Some-times they are like toothpaste, hidden in hygiene containers, or tucked into an individual's underwear or the sole of their shoe.

Because of these adaptive and inconspicuous traits, Mac-Dill Air Force Base's explosive ordinance Disposal team joined forces with the Tampa Transportation Security Administration recently to raise awareness of the many different explosive threats

Thirteen years ago, we watched in horror and dismay as the twin towers collapsed, the Pentagon fumed, and a small Pennsylvania field was left scarred as a result of the worst act of terrorism ever committed on American soil.

Following these terrorist attacks, the Department of Homelands Security established the TSA, with a mission to strengthen the security of our nation's transportation systems and ensure the freedom of movement for people and commerce. With this establishment also comes continuous training to ensure agents are up-to-date with all past, present and trending threat types.

Being that Tampa's TSA division is so close to MacDill, they joined forces with the base's EOD squad to make the experiences as real as possible.

"Making the experience as visual and hands on as possible is key in our line of work," said Staff Sgt. George Yates, 6th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD technician. "Each detonation we demonstrated today was a direct representation of the exact type of ex-plosives and quantities used in previous terrorist attacks against passenger aircraft."

Incorporated in the joint training session was detection, hands-on, and demonstration phases, which covered spotting hidden items on individuals and screening machines, to determining the magnitude and severity of various explosive types.

"With training like the one that we experienced today, our TSA officers were able to observe firsthand the destructive capability of real explosives and explosives effects," said Ken McClure, Tampa International Airport explosives supervisor. "With this, they are able to more effectively detect IEDs and IED components."

The MacDill EOD and Tampa TSA connection was established in 2010 with the first of four biennial training sessions. This week's two-day training session successfully trained 65 TSA officers and 11 MacDill explosive techs. Because of this relationship, TSA frequently requests MacDill's help to augment and assist with airport security.

"Every time we have requested mission support from MacDill EOD, they have always helped out," said McClure. "The foundation of our relationship is very important to individual and community safety."

With both MacDill's EOD and Tampa's TSA having insight into each other's organizational operations, the community is inevitably safer.