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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

For Immediate Release

Monday, September 13, 2021
Contact: John Ham

ATF National Center for Explosives Training and Research Announces Raven’s Challenge Interoperability Exercise at Camp Dodge, Johnston Iowa

Kansas City– The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives National Center for Explosives Training and Research, in partnership with the U.S. Army Headquarters, Department of the Army G-38 – Explosive Ordnance Disposal, announces the 2021 Raven's Challenge Interoperability Exercise, a national training event to prepare and counter the threat of improvised explosive devices. The exercise runs at multiple locations throughout the United States February 28 through September 17, 2021, and this week will be conducted at Camp Dodge, in Johnston, Iowa.

The Raven’s Challenge began in 2004 as an ATF-led training exercise for military EOD teams and civilian public safety bomb squads 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 U.S. Army, Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Transportation Safety Administration, and local and state law enforcement agencies throughout the country.

This annual, interagency counter-IED exercise continues to be the cutting edge of EOD/PSBS training. Focusing on emerging threats and scene exploitation are key elements to anticipate future IED threats. 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, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine Corps, including active-duty, reserve, and guard components; local and state PSBS; Department of Defense; Department of Justice; DHS; international law enforcement; and military and industry partners. International participation has increased to include eight partnering NATO nations involved in the exercise. In fact, Raven’s Challenge is a NATO-recognized C-IED 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. Supporting military and public safety bomb technician annual training requirements. The Raven’s Challenge objectives tie directly to guiding policy regarding C-IED national preparedness efforts.

The 2020 Raven’s Challenge was impacted significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic being able to provide only one training iteration before cancelling the remainder of the training events for that year. “We recognized the magnitude of this decision and the impact on our stakeholders and participants, but it was time to focus on our collective health. One of our greatest strengths of Raven’s Challenge is our ability to adapt and confront challenges head-on,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge, John “J.D.” Underwood.

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, Alabama, with two 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, Virginia, and the National Explosives Task Force in Washington, District of Columbia.

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.

Kansas City Field Division