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New York Guard ordnance experts train local police in avoiding IEDs

By Sgt. Mike Davis | 138th Public Affairs Detachment | February 17, 2016

CAIRO, N.Y. – "Move, move, move!" was shouted. Then, "go, go, go!" was echoed in response.

Then four police officers dressed in green jumpsuits and body armor - watched by bomb disposal experts from the New York Army National Guard - moved deftly among scattered debris and burned-out cars.

Keeping an eye out for trip-wires, and other signs of an improvised explosive device, the cops finally stood motionless against a cold, steel wall, waiting for the Guard Soldiers to tell them if they had been "killed" by an IED the military EOD experts placed on the course.

The Feb. 2 exercise was the culminating event of two days of training in which Soldiers from the 1108th Ordnance Company (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) taught 20 members of the Columbia-Greene County Shared Services Response Team how to spot and avoid IEDs at the 911 Call Center here.

The training, which was a combination of classroom instruction and field scenarios, involved IED identification and disarming, tactical movements, room and building clearing as well as familiarization with military and civilian equipment.

This was the first time the Shared Services Response Team conducted explosives training with the New York Army National Guard's 1108th. The unit is based in Glenville, New York, near Schenectady.

"Learning how each organization operates and how to work together during training is a huge benefit when we're called to respond during live situations," said Sgt. 1st Class John Gallo III, a recruiting and retention noncommissioned officer who helped to coordinate the training.

"There is no way to duplicate what the Army National Guard can do for and with us," said Sean McCulloch,a Greenville, New York, resident and Marine veteran, who is one of three team leaders of the Columbia-Greene Shared Response Services Team.

Columbia-Greene Shared Services Response Team is a combined specialized force that responds to high-profile crimes and emergencies such as drug raids, hostage situations and manhunts. Formed just six years ago, highly skilled police officers from Columbia and Greene Counties and the city of Hudson compete in physical fitness tests, weapons qualifications, close-quarters combat scenarios and, finally, an in-person board, to be selected to the team.

McCulloch, who has 13 years of law enforcement experience, said he valued the joint training opportunities and deployment experiences the Army National Guard brings to domestic operations.

"We know the terror that is overseas could happen here at any time. We need to be able to learn before loss of life; to keep us and the community safe," McCulloch said.

Michael Madison, a Hudson, New York, resident who has served as the medic for the response team for the past year, is no stranger to the benefit of civilian and military cross-training.

While serving as both a full-time civilian paramedic and the response team's medic, he's also an Army National Guard sergeant with 18 years of service, an Afghanistan veteran, and is currently a medic in the 42nd Infantry Division's Headquarters Battalion.

"My deployment experience allows me to bring real-world experience to our training here at home. We get to share and learn different techniques that can save lives," Madison said.

This joint training didn't only benefit the Shared Services Response Team, it also gave the 1108th EOD an opportunity to learn and hone their craft as well, said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Blackie, a member of the 1108th from Lansing, Michigan.

"They're the assault to target experts," Blackie said. "And we're the bomb disposal experts."

After the training concluded, participants shared how well it went, how much they learned from each other, and how much more could be gained from subsequent trainings.

"It's not a question of if, but when, this type of training is going to happen again," McCulloch said.