Navy and FBI cross-train on bomb detection

The FBI and Navy began cross-training ten years ago during the U.S. War on Terror to share each organization's unique skill-set and knowledge to better protect the country from explosive threats.

"(The U.S. Navy) invite us along on a lot of their training exercises to do range clearance operations," Special Agent James Verdi, an FBI bomb technician, said. "That teaches us the military ordnance side of the house: what bombs, artillery rounds, and munitions look like, so we can deal with them better if we see them."

The FBI has extensive experience in investigating improvised explosive devices, while the military has frequent encounters with IEDs. The Navy explosive ordinance disposal unit technicians have learned how to better analyze evidence at a crime scene from the FBI.

"Our jobs are very similar, although we have more experience with military ordnance and they have much more expertise in the counterterrorism portions of the job like explosives chemical analysis, explosives precursor knowledge, and so forth," Lt. Abe Kim, of the Navy's EOD detachment on Coronado Island, said. "We each bring different things to the table."

The cross-training sessions between the teams helps prepare the response squads for what they might see out on the field. The more prepared they are, the better chance they have for survival. The squad responsible for bomb threats and detection is composed of less than 4,000 people; Verdi said they are tight.

"That's one of the most important things we get out of working and training together with the Navy," Verdi said. "You have to earn their trust. And they have to know exactly how you're going to perform downrange in stressful environments, especially when you're in the combat theater. We train regularly so they know exactly how we are going to react. And they can depend on us when they need to."

Every bomb squad member must become certified through the Hazardous Devices School at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, which is run by the FBI and the Army, every three years. The FBI and military work together on a number of war-related situations. Training sessions help the squad members know that they can trust one another.

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