Fort Leonard Wood’s Counter Explosive Hazards Center and the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence hosted all four of the Army’s Explosive Hazards Coordination Cells for training June 2 through 15.
Throughout the two weeks, Soldiers with the 475th EHCC from Vicksburg, Mississippi; the 710th from Eastover, South Carolina; the 870th from Marietta, Georgia; and the 1307th from Huntsville, Alabama, trained together on counter-IED intelligence and planning, clearance operations, reconnaissance and mitigation methods for all explosive hazards and explosive material storage.
“Though we span several states, we take every opportunity to train together to ensure our Soldiers are prepared as much as possible were the balloon to go up,” said Lt. Col. Michael Levingston, 1307th EHCC Alabama Army National Guard commander. “Coming to Fort Leonard Wood for our annual training period, attending an array of training prepared by the Counter Explosive Hazards Center, further reinforces skills for both older and newer unit members.”
In addition to training, the trip allowed the four cell commanders an opportunity to work with CEHC and MSCoE on updating and revising doctrine in order to address future requirements, ensuring they stay well matched with the intent of other engineer units and higher commands.
According to the Combined Arms Training Strategy, the mission of EHCCs is to “receive and track explosive hazard incidents information, maintain the land mine database, pattern analysis of EH incidents and technical advice on EH to enable the land component commander to predict, track, distribute information and mitigate EHs within the Theater and Joint Operations Area.”
EHCCS were established in 2004 to bridge the gap between Explosive Ordnance Disposal, route clearance engineer units, intelligence units and the multiple headquarters associated with such in a single area of operation.
It wasn’t until 2011 that the first enduring EHCC was established when the 1307th did not disband following their combat tour in Afghanistan. They were followed by the 870th and the 710th EHCCs; all three are National Guard units. The Army Reserve stood up the 475th in October 2017, making it the first enduring federal EHCC.
The 15-Soldier enduring EHCC detachments contain a mix of combat engineers and noncommissioned officers with explosive-ordnance-clearance-agent and battle-staff training, making them prepared to operate in any environment. To be part of an EHCC, Soldiers must learn clearance techniques, intelligence analysis, geospatial tools and counter-explosive hazard planning skills.
Lt. Col. Bart Kemper, 475th EHCC Army Reserve commander, said his unit brought equipment with them from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineering Research and Development Center to help with developing some of these common skill sets. He said it’s just one of the ways the four cells are cross-leveling knowledge.
All agreed the months of teamwork and resource sharing led to a successful training event.
“It has been vital to build these relationships with the other EHCCs,” said Lt. Col. Terry Meyer, 710th EHCC South Carolina Army National Guard commander. “I am excited for our future training events as we continue to build upon on our increased knowledge and experience working as one team.”