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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

For Immediate Release

Monday, March 11, 2019
Contact: Thomas Mangan

ATF National Center for Explosives Training and Research Announce 2019 Raven's Challenge Interoperability Exercise

WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Center for Explosives Training and Research (NCETR), in partnership with the U.S. Army Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA) G-38 – Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), announce the 2019 Raven's Challenge Interoperability Exercise, a national training event to prepare and counter the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The exercise will run at multiple locations throughout the United States, March 19 through July 20, 2019 as follows:

  • March 10-15, Camp Blanding in Starke, FL

  • April 8-12, State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany, NY

  • May 6-10, YMCA of the Rockies in Winter Park, CO

  • June 10-14, Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in North Vernon, IN

The Raven’s Challenge began in 2004 as an ATF-led training exercise for both military EOD teams and public safety bomb squads (PSBS) in Seattle. The exercise matured into what is now the largest EOD/PSBS training exercise in the world. The Raven’s Challenge is funded by the U.S. Army and is executed by ATF and partner agencies including the Army, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FBI, and state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the country.

This annual, interagency counter-IED (C-IED) exercise will have an emphasis on subterranean operations and evidence collection procedures. Scenarios will focus on capabilities between public safety bomb squads and military EOD teams in operational environments. It involves EOD teams from the U.S. Air Force (USAF), Army, U.S. Navy (USN), and U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), including their active-duty, reserve, and guard components; state and local PSBS; Departments of Defense; Department of Justice; DHS; international law enforcement; and military and industry partners. International exposure has increased to include seven partnering NATO nations involved in the exercise. The close collaboration and participation of these organizations is a testament to the C-IED expertise and professionalism of all involved and the importance of the subject matter. The Raven’s Challenge objectives tie directly to guiding policy regarding C-IED national preparedness efforts.

The 2018 Raven’s Challenge executed 374 training iterations comprising more than 1,000 personnel involved in the participation and execution of the exercise. This includes EOD units within the U.S. Armed Services; state and local PSBS; federal Special Agent Bomb Technicians (SABT), investigators, observers, and various support personnel. Exercise participants from 32 states and seven countries participated in last year’s Raven’s Challenge Raven’s Challenge continues to grow public safety partnerships between international, state and local jurisdictions for the prevention, protection, mitigation and response to man-made threats faced by our nation and its communities. This close collaboration, coupled with tailored scenarios, which expose participants to emerging threats in diverse environments, keep this full-scale exercise extremely relevant and at the cutting edge of C-IED global exercises.
ATF NCETR consolidates all of the agency’s key explosives, fire, canine and response operations out of Huntsville, Ala., with two actual training locations. It consists of the Explosives Enforcement and Training Division; Explosives Research and Development Division; and the Fire Investigation and Arson Enforcement Division, all located at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. There is also the National Canine Division in Front Royal, Va., and the National Explosives Task Force in Washington, D.C.
ATF provides outstanding training facilities and the unmatched expertise of its training staff in delivering life-saving advanced explosives and arson training for our nation’s explosives handlers, bomb technicians, criminal investigators and military EOD teams. The main NCETR facility and explosives ranges in Huntsville make this center a unique resource in the fight against explosives-related violent crime and the government-wide C-IED efforts.   
To see more information about the Raven's Challenge Interoperability Exercise, view a video about last year’s event (link is external).
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