More than 50 members from the navy, army and air force have converged at CFB Comox to participate in Exercise Taz Runner, an annual training scenario to practise skills with improvised explosive device disposal.
“This is the seventh one in the series … it’s a culmination of the of the training and experience of a bunch of EOD – explosive ordinance disposal technicians – they all come to Comox from around the country,” explained Capt. Edward Jensen, aerospace engineer with the Canadian Forces and an operations officer at the Joint Counter Explosives Threat Task Force in Ottawa.
The EOD technicians work on two areas: domestic (within Canada) and deployed operations, where technicians could be called to perform EOD tasks overseas, he added.
“Overseas, they could support any allied troops, and in Canada, they can support law enforcement or just do work on their own.”
Jensen said the reason the military chooses Comox as the base to host the exercise is due to the domestic scenario they are attempting to simulate.
“There are areas in Canada that are better for simulating austere environments – something that would be a more deployed operation – but Comox has all facets of something that you would see in Canada domestically. It has the air, land and sea elements of more civilian life.”
On Tuesday morning, EOD technicians worked on a scenario involving a suspicious device, which was located in a cooler inside a vehicle.
The team took steps to confirm the device was there, that it was an improvised explosive device (IED) and took action to disrupt it using disruptive tools from a robot.
Jensen explained the robot keeps technicians safe because they are further away from the scene.
“The robot does everything that you do – (it does it) first and does it safely. So while you’re at your safe distance, you’re at your control point, the robot is manipulating things, it’s controlling all of the actions so you don’t have to do it by hand. So in the unlikely event that something does go off, the robot will be the only real casualty, and nobody will be injured or hurt.”
Despite the snow, the weather doesn’t pose any challenges for the training – including the robot – as Jensen said it’s “standard fare” for most of the technicians who come from areas across the county.
Exercise Taz Runner is set to end on Feb. 22. Residents near the base should not hear any noises louder than a shotgun shot, he noted.