VICENZA, Italy -- The U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa counter-IED program sponsored participation of two Tunisian army soldiers in Raven's Challenge at Camp Dodge, Iowa.
Raven’s Challenge is an annual, interagency, counter-IED exercise that incorporates scenarios focused on interoperability capabilities between public safety bomb squads and military explosive ordnance disposal units in operational environments.
Tunisian army Capts. Anouer Achouri and Maher Hammami joined Officer Antoine Smith and Sgt. Daniel Jabens of the Cedar Rapids Police Department Bomb Squad as a team to detect and disassemble explosive devices in the exercise.
"They did a really great job demonstrating their technical expertise and also their ability to rapidly integrate with the team," said Judson Strom, SETAF-AF counter-IED program specialist, who accompanied the Tunisians at the exercise.
Raven's Challenge incorporates scenarios focused on interoperability between public safety bomb squads and military EOD units.
For example, they learn how to use cutting-edge technologies and interoperability communications tools to safely resolve improvised explosive device incidents across the nation. The training began in 2004 as an ATF-led training exercise designed a military explosive ordnance teams and civilian public safety bomb squads in Seattle, Washington.
The program expanded over the years to become the largest, globally recognized explosives ordnance and public safety bomb specialist training event in the world. In addition, Raven’s Challenge is recognized as the leading-edge counter improvised explosives device exercise by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Over the past 15 years, Raven’s Challenge helped increase awareness about evolving explosives and bombings threats and the importance of a coordinated response by military and police organizations. In 2019, the event included 342 training iterations comprising more than 1,000 personnel involved in the participation and execution of the exercise.
Since January, Tunisian EOD forces have competed in four interoperability exercises such as Raven's Challenge. They will also be partnered with U.S. Army EOD forces with this year’s African Lion exercise, Strom said.
In addition to sponsoring African countries' participation in Raven's Challenge, the SETAF-AF Counter-IED Program coordinates training across the continent. SETAF-AF is currently conducting a United Nations IED Disposal courses in Tunisia and Senegal.