Engineering unit changes focus for deployment in early 2009
July 2, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas-Engineers with the 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division began an innovative training program here June 25. Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment started dismounted training at the Fort Hood ranges. The purpose of the training was to take Soldiers out of their element and re-focus their training to include bridge and ford surveillance, indirect fire and evaluating casualties. Engineering units are mechanized. Citing an opportunity to widen their skills in the area of dismounted patrol, the Co. E commander took his unit out for the 36 hour mission. The mission consisted of six objectives. Four of the objectives were engineering objectives the unit had previous experience in. The other two objectives were aimed at teaching the Soldiers security measures, safety and casualty evaluation. Aurora, Neb. native Spc. Adam Webb, a combat engineer with Co. E, 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. participated in the training with his unit. "This training was a swift kick in the tail," said Webb. "It was difficult, because we are out of our element. We haven't trained for dismounted patrol and this was a tougher experience that we originally thought." The mission was largely designed to instill confidence in squad leaders, identify shortcomings and work on deficiencies the engineers might have. The five- man squads broke off in several directions throughout the night. Each squad took a different route to a different objective and each squad had a different mission objective at each site. The night movement presented its own unique set of challenges. Land navigation is difficult under normal circumstances, but movement at night is challenging for safety reasons. The issue of safety was resolved with the use of medics in the field who were always in the vicinity of the Soldiers. Capt. John Burrescia, Co. E commander and a Dickinson, Texas native, encourages safety and procedural safety for his unit. "Safety is a top priority for us," said Burrescia. "There is a lot of wildlife in this area and snakes can be an issue as well as heat injury, but we are taking the necessary precautions. We have medics standing by to help Soldiers if they suffer injuries." Soldiers endured 98 degree heat while training. The Soldiers were encouraged by the leaders of the training to drink as much water as was needed to maintain their safety and hydration levels especially while conducting the road marches. Marching with 60 pounds of gear, the Soldiers moved two kilometers between each training site, before marching back at midnight to the unit offices. Command Sgt. Maj. Tim Stuckey, command sergeant major for the 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt., spoke of the success of the training and the success of the Soldiers who took part in the training. "This is outstanding training," said Stuckey. "This is a good starting point in preparation for a probable deployment next year. We are getting the Soldiers back in shape with some infantry training to enhance their already wide set of skills." "We don't know what our next mission requirements are, but we are focused on broadening the skills our engineers have so we can fulfill any mission we are given," added Stuckey.