OSI enhances readiness with ATF post-blast training

  • Published
  • By Thomas Brading
  • OSI Public Affairs

Special Agents from the Office of Special Investigations were among roughly 50 who received comprehensive post-blast training from representatives of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 7-11. 

The week-long course was designed to equip participants with skills in explosives identification, effects of explosions, recognizing improvised explosive devices and collecting evidence from post-blast scenes, officials said. 

"Training like the ATF's post-blast course readies OSI and our partners for an evolving world of threats. We are now better positioned to work together in real-world scenarios to process post-blast scenes and proceed with investigations,” Special Agent Nathan O’Toole, OSI’s 25th Expeditionary Field Investigations Squadron and attendee. 

For OSI, this training is particularly vital as Special Agents are often at the forefront of investigations into explosive-related incidents both domestically and abroad. 

“The training we do is important because all across the country and all across the globe there are consistently explosive-related incidents and bombings,” said David Taylor, ATF post blast program manager. 

According to Taylor, the training was possible through partnerships with state, local, federal, international and military partners, which allowed them to act as a unified force to combat criminal bombings effectively.

This interagency collaboration is a key component of OSI’s strategy, enabling Special Agents to work seamlessly with other organizations during crisis responses, in addition to regular training. 

"Regular training is essential. While post-blast scenes aren't a daily occurrence, extra practice helps maintain our skills. Now we have the confidence to handle the unique challenges these scenes present," O’Toole said. 

The course brought together representatives from Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands and Poland, as well as ATF experts and Airmen assigned to the 435th Air and Ground Operations Wing.

While the training took place in Germany, O'Toole was reminded of his earlier experiences. "I never thought I'd get to participate in similar training as I heard about at FLETC. Being in Germany for this, with a diverse group, allowed me to build vital relationships with international partners and other U.S. agencies," he said. 

Despite the gravity of the subject matter, OSI Special Agents are prepared for any eventuality, he added. 

"As OSI agents, we have to be prepared to respond to any scene, anywhere in the world, sometimes at a moment's notice. This training is very relevant, even if we hope not to use it," O'Toole said.

Encouraging a culture of knowledge-sharing, O'Toole added, "You can lead initiatives that enhance relationships and interoperability at any level,” he said. “Share what you learn. Strive to be the agent who continually spreads knowledge throughout OSI and the DoD."

The training stands as a testament to OSI’s dedication to continual skill improvement and interagency cooperation, equipping agents to address the complex challenges of an increasingly volatile world.

"This training not only sharpens the tactical skills essential for safeguarding our interests and personnel, but it also fortifies the crucial relationships we share with our allies,” said Lt. Col. Steven Torres, 25th Expeditionary Field Investigations Squadron commander. “PBIT is just a microcosm of the complex interagency and international landscape that OSI navigates in Europe and Africa. Enhancing our capacity for such partnerships is a global priority for both OSI and the Department of Defense."

Related links

ATF hosts explosive training at Ramstein AB