Utah National Guard trains for theater handover
November 14, 2013
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. -- In preparation for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan, the 115th Engineer Facilities Detachment, Utah Army National Guard, recently completed a culminating training event designed by First Army Division East's, 177th Armored Brigade exercise planners.
"We are tasked to mentor engineer units within the ANA (Afghan National Army) and the ANP (Afghan National Police) to maintain the upkeep of facilities the U.S. and Coalition Forces will leave behind," said Capt. Patrick L. Carucci, the Detachment 115th EFD company commander.
The 115th EFD, based in Camp Williams, Utah, trained at Camp Shelby Miss., for their upcoming year-long advise and train mission to assist the ANA and ANP in developing an engineer force.
The ANA and ANP engineer force will maintain base facilities when the Army's Corps of Engineers and other U.S. coalition forces depart at the end of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"This is a unique mission that is ongoing," the Roy, Utah native continued. "We will have our personnel all over Afghanistan."
A cumulative training exercise designed by First Army Division East, 177th Armored Brigade exercise planners and executed by observer coach/trainers provided by 158th Infantry Brigade, Camp Shelby, Miss., and 157th Infantry Brigade of Camp Atterbury, Ind., provided an awesome challenge for this group of advanced leaders of the Utah National Guard Detachment, said the lead CTE planner, Capt. Robert R. Burress, 2nd Battalion, 410th Field Artillery Regiment, 177th Ar Bde.
"Since the detachment is a small group, the cumulative training exercise for the 155th EFD was tailored by execution of missions with smaller teams," said Burress. "This unit will also disperse Soldiers further into varying areas with reliance on engineer battalions currently on ground in Afghanistan to provide support."
An engineer battalion of more than 400 Soldiers executed their own CTE, in conjunction with the 115th EFD to prepare for a retrograde mission to Afghanistan. The battalion, the 365th Engineer Battalion, from Schuylkill Haven, Pa., played an integral role in the training plan, providing support for the 115th EFD, said Burress. By training both units together, First Army Division East's goal was to replicate the expected in-theater conditions.
"During the exercise, one of many challenges was to establish operational control by communication with a larger engineer battalion to acquire security, equipment, tools, convoy movement, project support and general sustainment," said Burress. "The CTE plan put them in a situation where they really had to be proactive to obtain and communicate with a source."
The 115th EFD Soldiers benefited from the design of hands-on training specific to their mission, said Sgt. 1st Class Kemp R. Barney, native of Beaver in Southern Utah and the senior construction supervisor for the 115th EFD.
"The training aspect here with the 177th AR Bde and 158th IN Bde, in conjunction with Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Facility, is superior," said Barney. "A great job has been done preparing our unit to go down range."
"The plan also implemented that they will be in charge of quality control during the ANA and ANP engineer projects," said Burress. "They were effectively quality assurance and quality control over the projects around the cantonment area accomplished by the larger battalion during the CTE."
"Meeting the 115th EFD training objectives, we included interacting with local nationals, organized meetings with ministers of defense and interior, and other higher government personnel," said Capt. David A. McCollum, 3rd - 315th EN Bn, 158th Inf Bde operations officer.
McCollum coordinated the tactical and engineering OC/Ts, as well as key leader engagements and site surveys involving role players and foreign language speakers around the cantonment.
"The warrior task lane training and classroom training were excellent, especially the insider threat and CIED training," said Barney. "We were provided subject matter experts who were professional and spot-on."
Barney commended the expertise, leadership, and professionalism of the close-knit detachment.
"There is a wealth of knowledge in this group and I feel privileged to be deploying with them," he said.
While deployed, Barney said he will mentor plumbers, carpenters, and water and power distribution personnel to ensure United Nations and United States standard specifications, he said.
"The CTE plan gave us suitable exercise with extreme detail exclusively towards our current mission," explained Barney.
The unit's senior engineer agreed.
"There are not many engineer facility detachments that perform this mission of handing over facilities, and law and order to the ANA and ANP," said Lt. Col. Matthew C. Branham, the 115th EFD senior engineer..
Branham, a native of Columbia, S.C., is responsible for assigning Soldiers to missions and verifying the missions are done safely and correctly, he said.
"In our mission of advising, we will incorporate the Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forces and a liaison with the ANA and ANP to assist their engineers with a certain trade or skill set," said Branham.
Branham has experience from a previous deployment to Iraq as a logistics officer for a military intelligence battalion in 2009, he said.
"The ANA and ANP engineers will be able to eventually maintain facilities that are currently in place, manage construction and sustain future growth." said Branham.
"Our detachment is an element that is very specific to those capabilities," said Branham. "We want to enable the ANA and ANP engineers to end their reliance on the Corps of Engineers, U.S. and Coalition Forces."
First Army ensures mobilization training is relevant, realistic and reflects the most current conditions Soldiers face in theater. First Army Division East directly supports the Chief of Staff of the Army's priority of providing trained, equipped and ready forces to win the current fight, while maintaining responsiveness for unforeseen contingencies.