Following closely on the heels of the recent bombings and attempted bombings in New York and New Jersey, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced on September 22 that it will be taking over responsibility of the Hazardous Devices School (HDS) at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, one of the leading bomb training facilities in the United States.
“The bombing events in New York and New Jersey are a testament to the challenges faced by bomb technicians daily—and an unfortunate reminder of a threat that is both evolving and enduring,” said FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
HDS is a civilian bomb training facility established in 1971 to train bomb technicians at all levels of law enforcement. The FBI has managed the facility in partnership with the US Army until the recent announcement that the FBI would be assuming primary responsible. McCabe said the Army will continue to play an important role in the school’s mission.
Special Agent Jeff Warren, Director of HDS, explained that the school trains and certifies approximately 200 new bomb techs each year from the 467 bomb squads across the nation. Public safety bomb techs require recertification at HDS every three years.
“The threat from terrorists and other criminals is ever changing,” Warren said. “We have to provide the very best training available. This is a no-fail mission.”
In addition, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate announced this week that the Response and Defeat Operations Support (REDOPS) program is adding a fifth Bomb Squad Test Bed location hosted by the FBI Counter Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Unit at HDS.
REDOPS aims to develop safer and more efficient countermeasures for bomb squads by examining new and emerging technologies, expanding robotic capabilities, and upgrading existing tools and protective systems.
The HDS test bed will identify new technologies and techniques and examine their ability to for render safe IEDs. The ideas and best practices that individual bomb technicians and bomb squads learn from HDS will be disseminated throughout the bomb tech community.
“It’s a logical step,” says REDOPS Program Manager Byung Hee Frantz. “Putting these new tools and procedures in the classroom means the most innovative, effective strategies for mitigating IED threats will get into the field in an expedient manner. By partnering with FBI and conducting test bed assessments at HDS, every bomb squad in the country will benefit from the work REDOPS does.”