Combat engineers finish field exercise with a bang
October 24, 2013
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky., (Oct. 16, 2013) - Combat engineers assigned to Company A, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team "Rakkasans," 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), took part in a three day field training exercise to gain proficiency in their job specific skills.
"Our training objectives while out here were to perform heavy demolitions and urban breaching demolitions," said Capt. Scott F. Mertz, Commander of Company A. "We are here to focus on our foundation."
The combat engineers used a multitude of explosives to complete their various missions while in the field. These missions ranged from destroying terrain to prevent enemy vehicle movement to breaching doors and walls for easy entrance into buildings.
"As combat engineers we are engineering the battlefield," said Spc. Austin Brower, a combat engineer assigned to 2nd Platoon, Company A. "(This includes) anything from adding protective structures to removing paths and obstacles."
Choosing the right explosive for each mission is the key.
"We make sure we can do everything and we make sure we can do it right," said Spc. Barjona Ray, a combat engineer assigned to 1st Platoon, Company A. "We use different explosives for different jobs. We can either use them to make obstacles or destroy them."
Skills the Soldiers are learning are critical to their success.
"What we are practicing are skills that we could very well use when we are deployed," said Bower. "One of our missions is to clear a route of concertina wire that's covering it, so we are going to use a long explosive charge called a bangalore."
Throughout the field training exercise, the company trained their job specific skills in order to increase the proficiency of their troops while building a solid foundation for their newer Soldiers.
"This is training to maintain proficiency on demolitions," said Sgt. 1st Class William McCullough, the operations sergeant for Company A. "We are the only sapper company within the Rakkasans, so we must stay proficient in all facets of mobility, counter mobility, and survivability."
In addition to training on their demolition skills, the combat engineers also rehearsed other important skills like maneuvering as a formation and clearing possible mine locations.
"We are designed to break down and support the infantry role," said McCullough. "Our secondary job is infantry so we must also practice and refine those skills as well as our combat engineering skills."
Mertz, who just returned from the unit's latest deployment, understands the importance of both sets of skills.
"There are two focus points while we are out here," said Mertz. "We have to perfect our battle drills so we can support the manuever forces, as well as learn and refine the infantry battle drills so we can shoot, move and communicate with them."
Soldiers of Company A are tested on both sets of skills as the combat engineers are broken up into platoons during deployments and dispersed among the Rakkasan battalions.
Though the diversity in training is necessary, engineers understand their primary mission is as the engineer expert in the unit.
"Our job as combat engineers is mobility, counter mobility and survivability," said Mertz. "We provide mobility for our maneuver forces, block enemy movement as well as emplacing and building protective structures for our forces to ensure survivability."
As a small unit, accomplishing this big mission for the Brigade takes dedication.
"We will continue to train and grow so that what the time comes for us to start running, we run non-stop no matter what," said McCullough. "As a Rakkasan sapper, I look forward to our next rendezvous with destiny."