An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Things That Make You Go Boom

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Todd Wivell
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
(Note: This is part four of a 13-part series on the Combat Control School training program.) 

Grenades and blowing things up is what Class 09-003 learned about during week four of their 13-week combat control course. It was an intense week of classroom instruction with safety being at the forefront, and after 33 hours of instruction the 19 students were led out to the ranges of Ft. Bragg where they were able to throw live grenades and set off live explosives. 

"The trainees are instructed on the safety regarding unexploded ordnances and improvised explosive devices, everything to include safeguarding, storage, transporting and safe handling of the explosives," said Tech. Sgt. Don. "We cover what is proper in these areas as well as what is not and the regulations that govern them." 

Sergeant Don went on to state the trainees learned everything from demolition supervisor duties to learning the different classifications and characteristics of the explosives they would be using in their careers as combat controllers. 

"They learned how to precisely calculate for the amount of explosive required to cut specific types and sizes of targets. They learned timber cutting charges, which are important for clearing obstacles on helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft landing zones, steel cutting charges and boulder and tree stump removal techniques. They also learned the use of electric demolition equipment and proper procedures for setting up an electric firing circuit. 

"Finally they covered the hand grenade characteristics and safe handling. The last two days of this block of instruction were for the practical application of grenades and explosives out at the Ft. Bragg ranges." 

1st Lt. Jeffrey, a combat control student of Class 09-003, said the entire class was looking forward to the practical applications of throwing grenades and setting off explosives. 

"The guys were pumped about that current block of instruction we were in," said Lieutenant Jeffrey. "We all looked forward to throwing hand grenades and getting the opportunity blow stuff up out at the range." 

The overall goal of this portion of the class was to build a foundation for the use of grenades and explosives. Combat controllers are qualified in this block as it is a core task in their career field and completing this portion of instruction qualifies them in the ability to adapt to different combat environments and mission requirements and the use of explosives in these situations. 

As in all classes at the combat control school, teamwork was a key to the successful completion of this block of instruction. 

"Teamwork is used in demolition situations primarily with safety in mind," said Sergeant Don. "The teams must work together in all aspects of the demolition operation. It takes a minimum of two people to conduct test burns. It takes another group to build charges and another separate group to conduct priming site operations. 

"Blasting caps (explosives igniting device) must be kept 25 feet away from explosives until priming the charge and in so the teams have to work together to get this done. They all come together in the end to build the shot. Explosives are dual primed for safety to ensure detonation, requiring two individuals to initiate each non-electric shot as well." 

Speaking of teamwork, Lieutenant Jeffrey talked about the hard fact of losing two members in the last week of instruction and how it had impacted their class as a team.
"Losing two of our own members was tough," said Lieutenant Jeffrey. "We are all trying to exceed the standard both individually and as a team, when we lose team members we begin to feel like we are not exceeding tose standards and we are not staying together as a team. 

"I have four years of prior service in another career field; I have never seen as much teamwork in my career as I have in this course. Before this course I had interaction primarily with senior noncommissioned officers and other junior officers, now that I am at the CCS I am working with Airmen of all ranks and learning they are the backbone of solid teamwork. I have learned that I can rely on all of my Airmen, regardless of their rank, and I fully see how this concept is at the core for this career field. 

"We, our class as a team, have more camaraderie as a team now since starting this course. We know each other personally and we know we are individuals with our own unique talents but when we come together we become a well-trusted team." 

"This class impressed me most during this week of instruction by their motivation and attention to detail," said Sergeant Don. "They worked well together as a team and reminded each other of the safety factors involved with each step of the process making my job easy as the demolition supervisor. All of this reinforced the fact that they were actually paying attention in class." 

As the 19 trainees of Class 09-003 completed their week of "blowing stuff up" and throwing hand grenades, a sense of teamwork and full understanding of why these men volunteered was clearly evident. They have come from all walks of life to join the elite forces of the combat controller and to one day work as a team to complete the combat controller mission.