ATF’s National Center for Explosives Training and Research hosts the annual Raven’s Challenge Interoperability Exercise as a national preparedness event that tests interagency partners’ response tactics used to detect and deter explosives/bombing threats. The full-scale training event is part of ATF’s U.S. Bomb Data Center tactical training programs used to enhance certified explosive specialists, arson experts and bomb technicians responses to explosive threats. For example, they learn how to use cutting-edge technologies and interoperability communications tools to safely resolve improvised explosive device incidents across the nation.
The training began in 2004 as an ATF-led training exercise designed a military explosive ordnance teams and civilian public safety bomb squads in Seattle, Washington. The program expanded over the years to become the largest, globally recognized explosives ordnance and public safety bomb specialist training event in the world. In addition, Raven’s Challenge is recognized as the leading-edge counter improvised explosives device exercise by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Over the past 15 years, Raven’s Challenge helped increase awareness about evolving explosives and bombings threats and the importance of a coordinated response by military and police organizations. In 2019, the event included 342 training iterations comprising more than 1,000 personnel involved in the participation and execution of the exercise. Participants include ATF, U.S. Department of the Army, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Transportation and Safety Administration along with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.