NEWS | Sept. 30, 2020

Exercise Northern Challenge 2020 Concludes

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jamica Johnson

Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) technicians attached to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 8, assigned to Commander Task Force (CTF) 68, participated in the Icelandic Coast Guard-led multinational EOD exercise Northern Challenge Sept. 6-14, 2020.

The U.S. Navy participants joined service members from the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, Belgium, Denmark, Britain, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).

Exercise Northern Challenge 2020 is an annual joint funded, Icelandic Coast Guard-hosted, multinational EOD exercise aimed at preparing Power for Peace, NATO, and Nordic nations for international deployments and defense against terrorism.

“This exercise was important in building relationships between the other NATO EOD forces,” said Senior Chief Virgilio Kenneth, U.S. Navy EOD technician. “We were able to come together and work as a whole to execute a simulated campaign and defeat the threat.”

During the exercise, EOD technicians received real world training by utilizing non-explosive improvised explosive devices (IED). The IEDs used for the activity did not contain live ordinance; instead, the team used live circuitry that notified the technician if they successfully neutralized the device.

“The realistic training everyone received during this exercise allowed the focus to be primarily on the EOD technician,” said Senior Kenneth. "The training enabled the different countries technicians to hone their skillsets over a short time."

The U.S. Navy’s participation in the exercise demonstrated our commitment to working closely with NATO allies and partners to enhance maritime security and stability, readiness, and naval capability while taking every precaution in a COVID environment to ensure the health and safety of our Sailors, crews, partners, and allies.

EODMU-8 provides critical and unique EOD, diving, mine countermeasures, and mobility capabilities to render safe conventional munitions, IEDs, and weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

CTF-68 commands all Naval Expeditionary Forces in the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) areas of responsibility in direct support of Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa and Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet (CNE-CNA/C6F) Maritime and Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) Strategies and Maritime Support Plans (MSP).

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.