Army Reserve Engineers Practice Demolition at WAREX
July 28, 2014
FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. - The 744th Engineer Battalion, 744th Engineer Company and 368th Engineer Battalion came together for training on essential combat engineer tasks and skills, including using explosives to remove obstacles, unexploded ordinance and removing obstacles in a unit's path of travel during the Warrior Exercise 91 14-03.
"Combat Engineers improve the lives, and establish security for the local population when deployed," said Sgt. Benjamin Heiner, a combat engineer with the 744th Engineer Battalion, based in Ogden, Utah. "However, to get to an acceptable level of muscle memory it takes lots and lots of practice."
This training allowed the Soldiers to observe how to set up, arm and fire a Mine Clearing Line Charge (MICLIC), and practice packing, setting up, and firing a variety of plastic explosives.
"This training is priceless," said Capt. Steven Keister, Operations Officer for the 368th Engineer Battalion based out of Londonderry, New Hampshire. "These skills are perishable. Without constant and vigilant training the Soldiers are at risk of losing their proficiency."
The combat engineers started their morning by prepping a MICLIC, followed by the conducting of blast procedures and the blast countdown. Soldiers used the MICLIC brought for training with simulated explosives, because there are only two places in the U.S. where a live version can be fired off, because of how large the explosion is. The device has 350 feet of rope covered with blocks of simulated explosives.
"Valuable, massive and life-saving," said Keister. "Is the only way I can think of to describe the training going on for the WAREX. There is a high pay off to this training, because of how valuable it is to ensure that you know what you're doing when working with explosives."
One upside of this training is that the engineers get to ignite C-4, which they can rarely do.
"Combat engineers use specific methods and techniques to clear the battlefield of dangers that would otherwise injure a service member," said Heiner. "There are very technical and detail-oriented parts of this job that we don't always get to practice, but they're just as vital to ensuring safety as blowing up battlefield obstacles."
WAREX is helping to prevent loss of knowledge by shaping the way service members train permanently, which will lead to saving lives on the battlefield.
"There are three easy ways to both describe combat engineers and the job they do," said Heiner. "Loud. Dangerous. Valuable."