By Glynn Cosker
Managing Editor, EDM Digest
American Military University (AMU) is a strategic partner and sponsor for the 2017 Raven’s Challenge – the world’s largest training event for military and police EOD/IED units and emergency management personnel. The two-week event will take place in Hua Hin, Thailand, from July 10 to July 21.
Dr. Chris Reynolds – AMU’s Dean, Academic Outreach & Program Development – will speak at Raven’s Challenge, and AMU plans to award two scholarships during the event to EOD techs recommended by their local commanders.
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. It has since grown to become the largest EOD/PSBS training exercise in the world – featuring EOD teams from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine Corps, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, DHS, international law enforcement – along with military and industry partners.
Over the years, Raven’s Challenge has grown to become an important international law enforcement and military counter-IED experience.
EDM Digest recently spoke with AMU’s Dr. Reynolds about Raven’s Challenge.
EDM Digest: Tell us a little bit about your participation at Raven’s Challenge.
Dr. Reynolds: Dr. Marc Riccardi, (AMU’s Vice President, School of Security & Global Studies) and I will be attending the conference, and we’ll be speaking at the Commander’s Briefing, and at the general sessions. Dr. Riccardi and I will be giving an overview of AMU, our curriculum, and about how our curriculum – with its online format – is accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world. And, because of the strong relationship between the Thai military and the U.S. military, we see this as a natural partnership that we want to explore and wish to see flourish.
In Thailand – the government and the military are responsible for emergency management and they are looking for a greater footprint for emergency management professionals - not just from Thailand, but also from Japan, Australia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia – from all of the nations in that region. There is potential for AMU to provide them with what we offer in terms of our higher education opportunities – which that part of the world is eager to find.
Additionally, one of the themes at Raven’s Challenge is interoperability – which is one of the aspects I’ll be speaking about in Thailand; not just the technical interoperability involving tactics, equipment, and personnel, but also the interoperability between educational partners.
EDM Digest: Which scholarships will be offered by AMU at Raven’s Challenge?
Dr. Reynolds: Dr. Riccardi and I will also be awarding AMU scholarships at the awards ceremony. Specifically, we’ll be awarding two scholarships for either an Associate Degree in Explosive Ordnance Disposal, an Associate Degree in Counter Terrorism Studies, or an Associate Degree in Weapons of Mass Destruction Preparedness.
We feel that by offering these scholarships, it does two things: first, it introduces that part of the world to AMU and its community of scholars and veterans; and second, it provides a higher education opportunity to professionals in Thailand who otherwise would not have the opportunity; it allows them to better themselves in their careers, and – of course – it extends them the opportunity to attend a fantastic university.
Once the students enroll with AMU, they can essentially then move into any educational track they wish to – AMU is going to provide the scholarship for the associate component of it, and the students will hopefully continue on to a bachelor’s degree program too.
At Raven’s Challenge, there is a large group of professionals that are looking for improvement in their own education and abilities – they are looking to pursue higher education and ‘move up the ladder’ – and we at AMU felt that this was the best way to help people succeed in those goals.
EDM Digest: What specific EDM experience can you speak to during your presentations at Raven’s Challenge?
Dr. Reynolds: I’ll be offering up some of my military experience from when I was deployed to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Improvised explosive devices are a real concern. I intend to speak to what I experienced in terms of awareness, because a large part of the training that Raven’s Challenge provides – aside from the technical aspects of identifying and defusing IEDs – is the preparation and the knowledge of what to look for in the first place.
I’ll also be offering some of my medical experience in terms of assisting with the aftermath of an explosion and blast injuries. Any time you are dealing with explosives, that is obviously one of the concerns you have – dealing with the effects of the explosion; the pressure wave that the body experiences and the materials that are blasted off which result in injury. There is a huge trauma component to this, so that will work its way into what I’ll be talking about at Raven’s Challenge also.
EDM Digest: What are you hoping to get out of Raven’s Challenge on a personal level?
Dr. Reynolds: It’s funny, I only ever think about AMU and never on my own terms, but personally, what I hope to get out of Raven’s Challenge is to share ideas with my global colleagues in the emergency management and military community. I was in Singapore back in 1999 when I was with the Air Force in Special Operations Command and spoke at a conference there; and I really enjoyed that part of the world and the people in that region. I look forward to getting reacquainted with its fabulous, rich culture. I’m also looking forward to working with our colleagues in the Thai Police and Thai military.
You can learn more about Raven’s Challenge by visiting their official website.
About Dr. Chris Reynolds
Dr. Chris Reynolds, CEM, has over 30 years of higher education experience in both the traditional and online classroom. He formerly served as the Director for the Emergency and Disaster Management and Homeland Security programs. He is a member of the International Association of Emergency Managers. Dr. Reynolds is also a recently retired Division Fire Chief and Emergency Manager with over 33 years of experience in a large metro-county fire-rescue organization.
His emergency management experience includes the Oklahoma City bombing; Hurricanes Andrew, Elena, Opal, and Katrina; the Haitian earthquake, and the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill. Dr. Reynolds is a certified emergency manager (CEM) through the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM), a graduate of the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program (EFO), and a Chief Fire Officer Designee (CFO) through the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). Additionally, he holds the Military Emergency Management Senior Specialist (MEMS) badge. Dr. Reynolds served over 21 years in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.