In September 2020, the Icelandic Coast Guard hosted Northern Challenge, an annual Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) training for NATO nations and their allies. This multinational exercise aims to sharpen EOD technicians’ technical skills through Improvised Explosive Device Defeat (IEDD) training scenarios that become increasingly complex as the challenge progresses. During these trainings, EOD teams compete against observer/controllers (OCs) to quickly and effectively neutralize devices.
In addition to offering EOD technicians a hands-on technical experience, Northern Challenge provides an opportunity to enhance international readiness and build new partnerships between USAFE EOD flights. As NATO’s largest IEDD exercise, the training typically spans two weeks with a weekend break to allow for recovery and sightseeing. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the timeline of this year’s Northern Challenge was shortened and participants were required to stay on base for the duration of the exercise. Although in-person networking events were cancelled, participants still had the opportunity to connect with and learn from their peers during training scenarios.