'Fire in the hole': Engineers conduct live-fire demolition, breach training
August 1, 2013
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- When Soldiers hear that they have a range coming up, they may start planning for a long day of sitting on the bleachers inside of a windscreen waiting their turn to qualify on their assigned weapon.
But for Soldiers assigned to 630th Route Clearance Company, 7th Engineer Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, "range" is more about explosions than killing time.
During combined-arms, platoon live-fire breach training July 25 at Range 24, Soldiers worked on the fundamentals of breaching a wire obstacle with demolitions, said 1st Lt. Dusty Rodes, a platoon leader assigned to 1st Platoon, 630th RCC. They focused on combined-arms training by working with the air support provided by Kiowas assigned to A Troop, 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment.
As the combat engineers set up a support by fire element, Kiowa pilots provided simultaneous fire on the objective, giving the breaching element cover to maneuver to a wire obstacle.
"It's one thing for us just to go blow something up, but when you actually start coordinating with other units and support elements, it changes everything," said Spc. Perry Antone, a team leader assigned to 1st Platoon, 630th RCC. "Your timing has to be just right."
The breaching element got in position to clear the wire while the Kiowas maintained an over-watch pattern on the objective. After a single Soldier cleared a lane of all trip wires leading up to the obstacle, he threw a grappling hook tied to engineer tape and dropped to the prone position to pull the hook back, moving forward approximately 15 meters after each toss.
The step was repeated until the lane was completely cleared. The Soldier then called out: "In the wire!"
After hearing his signal, the next Soldier ran down the cleared lane with detonation cord tied to his belt. Once at the breach point, the second Soldier prepared the cord and yelled, "Set."
Two Soldiers carrying Bangalore torpedoes then sprinted to the wire obstacle, pushed the charges into position and tied them to the detonation cord. The squad leader verified that every demolition knot was tied correctly to avoid a misfire.
For training purposes, the breach element pulled back their position before blowing the charges.
After shouting: "Fire in the hole, fire in the hole, fire in the hole," Soldiers detonated the charge, and the breaching element headed back to the obstacle, where a team was assembled to mark the cleared lanes with orange stakes at the entry funnel, the left side of the cleared area and the exit funnel of the lane.
Once the breach lane was marked, an assault team was informed of the breach status and location. They quickly assaulted and secured a foothold for a follow-on assault team.
At the end of the exercise, the platoons conducted an after-action review with the company commander, who went over each platoon's high points and areas that needed some improvement.
"What impressed me the most was the way brand new Soldiers, from privates fresh out of (Advanced Individual Training) to a platoon leader in his position for less than a week, were integrated into the exercise without causing serious problems or a loss of unit integrity," said 1st Lt. John White, 630th RCC executive officer. "Each platoon did an excellent job at integrating their new Soldiers and filling other's positions up the chain of command (who) were absent due to schools and injuries.
"It was also great getting the (Kiowa) guys to fly and shoot with us," White added. "That added an entirely new aspect to the training that we haven't had up to this point."