By Sgt. 1st Class Erick Studenicka
Joint Force Headquarters

Sgt. 1st Class Erick Studenicka/Joint Force
Headquarters EOD soldiers prepping for deployment in Hawthorne.

This year, the end of summer will mark the end of a long break for both Nevada students and soldiers alike.

It’s been two relatively quiet, homebound years since a Nevada Army Guard has been deployed abroad. But contrary to late-summer days, the deployment schedule is heating up for the five departing Army Guard units that will be performing missions on three continents within six months.

The first unit to leave the state in three years will be the 3665th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company based in Henderson later this month. The unit is set to deploy about 30 Soldier to Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, to support Operation Freedom’s Sentinel for about 10 months. The last company to leave the state on a deployment was the now-disbanded 485th Military Police Company in August 2016; those soldiers returned to the Silver State in September 2017.

Established in 2013, the 3665th is the lone EOD unit in the state and the upcoming deployment will be the unit’s first. EOD soldiers specialize in defusing unexploded ordnance, improvised explosive devices and weapons of mass destruction.

“At this point, we are fully prepared to take on our mission,” said 3665th 1st Sgt. Benjamin Hopper. “We’ll be working with both conventional and unconventional forces assisting in disarming improvised explosive devices and clearing out unexploded ordnance. We can do both either mounted or dismounted.” (Note: Hopper appears as a sergeant first class on the state’s roster but is set to become a first sergeant.)

According to 3665th commander Maj. Aaron Mach, the unit’s Soldiers will likely be dispersed throughout the Kandahar region to provide coalition support.

The worst of the deployment cycle is likely over for the 3665th soldiers after concluding some of the most strenuous and challenging pre-deployment training in Nevada Guard history. Mach noted that explosive ordnance disposal personnel are among the Army’s most highly-trained soldiers.

In fact, the 3665th just wrapped up its culminating training event in June at Fort Carson, Colorado. There was no room for error during the training as live explosives were used as the unit’s soldiers practiced on robotic platforms, dismounted and night operations, and enemy unmanned aerial systems.

In March, the unit received instruction in Henderson and Hawthorne from the FBI and the Henderson Police Dept. on topics ranging from home-made explosives identification, compound mixing and disposal, and advanced electronics identification and construction.

Because they are so highly trained, fully-trained EOD Soldiers are also scarce. Of the roughly 30 Soldiers set to be deployed, about one-third are not Nevada residents and represent five different states.

After the 3665th leaves in late August, the deployment schedule will stay busy throughout autumn. By mid-winter, more than 200 of the state’s roughly 3,100 Guard Soldiers will be supporting Army operations in Asia, Europe and Africa.

The other deploying units include: G Company, 2/238th Aviation; B Company, 1/189th Aviation; the 757th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion; and Det. 3, Company B, 2/641st Aviation (aka Detachment 45, Operational Support Airlift.)