Volunteer force of Louisiana Guardsmen trains with 5th AR BDE
December 10, 2013
McGREGOR RANGE, N.M. - The 1st Battalion, 361st Engineer Regiment, Task Force Redhawk, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West, recently conducted three days of counter-improvised explosive device training as well as a mounted combat patrol live-fire exercise.
The Louisiana National Guardsmen of the 927th Engineer Company (Sapper), 769th Engineer Battalion, based out of Baton Rouge participated in the training events alongside TF Redhawk.
Almost four months prior, the 927th only had about half the number of Soldiers required for the deployment. One of their sister companies, the 928th Engineer Company (Sapper) was told they would not be deploying anymore around the same time. Once the 928th was off-ramped, around 40 Soldiers asked to volunteer with the 927th and help fill their ranks for the deployment to Afghanistan.
"I had many sleepless nights about four months ago," said 1st Sgt. Tod Archote, the 927th first sergeant and 17-year veteran. "Half of our company are volunteers from the 928th."
Having already spent a year in Afghanistan from 2008-09, the engineer company is no stranger to training. With this recent deployment though, the unit was required to come to McGregor Range to validate their deployment readiness instead of Fort McCoy, Wisc., which was where they conducted pre-deployment training in 2008.
"One of my biggest focal points as a commander is the collective training," said Capt. James Hoover, the 927th company commander. "We have had a lot of specific, individual tasks and skills training recently, but collective training is when you really find the chinks in your armor."
Throughout their training with TF Redhawk, the 927th Soldiers received instructions on the latest tactics, techniques, and procedures when it comes to defeating the IED threat in Afghanistan. Throughout three days of training, Soldiers were briefed, familiarized, and tested on all facets of the IED threat. For their closing training event with TF Redhawk, the unit had to successfully complete a live-fire exercise that incorporates the C-IED training they recently received as well as a realistic medical evacuation that concludes the lane.
After each iteration, the unit is briefed by TF Redhawk Soldiers during the after action review on the issues, mistakes, or even the good areas on the lane. In this way, the unit will learn from their mistakes during the next iteration.
While they may be done with engineer battalion, they must complete a 4-day Culminating Training Event with the 3rd Engineer Battalion, 364th Regiment, Task Force Rampant, where they will be tested on everything they've been trained on during their time at McGregor Range to include route clearance.
"The 927th has a very strong foundation," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Robinson, 2-year Task Force Redhawk observer-coach/trainer. "Their ability to take the basic fundamentals we taught them and turn them into a solid set of tactics, techniques, and procedures speaks well on their part."