FLORENCE, Ariz. -- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives hosted Raven's Challenge, an improvised explosive device (IED) response exercise that served as cross-training between Military Explosives Ordnance Disposal and Public Safety Bomb Squads.
The event took place nationwide, in locations like Washington D.C. in addition to Florence. Different areas faced different scenarios, with the Arizona one focusing on a response to explosives being brought across the border.
ATF Explosives Enforcement Officer Anthony May said the military explosive units and civilian bomb squads don't usually work together, so the challenge serves as a way for them to get to know each other in a variety of critical situations.
"The military and the civilian bomb technicians, who don't generally work together, get that feel for each other and get that joint interoperability going to better serve the community," May said.
May said different groups deal with different conditions related to the desert around the border during the exercise. One group, for example, is helicoptered in to a site while another has to walk a mile with whatever equipment they can carry.
Raven's Challenge is held every year, but this is the first year that it's been held in different areas nationwide. May said the themes of the scenarios are the same in every area, but they deal with situations that are most relevant to the area they're in.
"What's happening here in Phoenix is also happening, for example, in Washington D.C. with similar components," May said. "Only, they're dealing with the urban environment, they're dealing with local transportation being attacked."
While May said there have only been a few caches of explosives found near the border in the past several years, the exercise should get personel who are more used to working in urban environments, like downtown Phoenix, better equipped to handle anything in the desert or near the border.