Army Engineers, MPs conduct route clearance at JRTC
August 22, 2014
Story by 1st Lt. Maxwell McDonnell, 95th Engineer Company, 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
FORT POLK, La. - Months of training were put to the test for 1st Platoon, 95th Engineer Company (Clearance), 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, as they supported 3rd Brigade (Rakkasans), 101st Airborne Division during Joint Readiness Training Center rotation 14-09.
"Though it was difficult at times being the sole unit from Hawaii, it was a great opportunity to train on combined operations," reflected Sgt. 1st Class Bernard Miles, a platoon sergeant for the 95th Engineer Company
During the first part of the exercise, the Soldiers cleared the route for the lead ground assault convoy of 3rd Brigade during the joint forcible entry (JFE) exercise.
As part of this operation, the engineers acted as the lead element and cleared the route to establish the flight landing strip for the 101st Airborne aviation assets. Through their decisive actions, 1st Platoon helped facilitate the Rakkasans' air assault infiltration into an enemy-occupied area.
The platoon also worked to clear the route for the logistical staging area, which provided sustainment support for the entire three-day exercise.
"Though it was tiring, we still had a great time and pulled together to complete our mission," stated Pfc. Dylan Wilson, a combat engineer with 1st Platoon.
During the second half of the rotation, 1st Platoon was integrated with the 463rd Military Police Company, 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, out of Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. For eight days, the military police and combat engineers conducted combined route clearance operations in order to assure mobility for friendly forces.
"JRTC was a great opportunity to show my team how mentally draining route clearance truly is," said Sgt. Manuel Cebreros, team leader in 1st Platoon. The platoon cleared a variety of routes, both improved and unimproved, averaging 62 kilometers a day.
With such long distances, recovery operations proved essential to mission success. Detachments from the 95th Engineer Company maintenance section were heavily relied upon to recover a variety of Mine-Resistance Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles following improvised explosive device strikes.
"JRTC presented us with the challenge of both maintaining and towing vehicles we do not have back on the island," stated Spc. Manuel Garza, a mechanic with the 95th Engineer Company.
The experience acted as the culminating event to validate a year's worth of training. It provided the platoon the opportunity to apply everything they had learned during past training events at locations such as East Range, Kahuku Training Area, and Pohakuloa Training Area.
With the completion of JRTC rotation 14-09, the Soldiers of 1st Platoon, 95th Engineer Company proved their competence and readiness to conduct contingency engineer operations across the Pacific Theater.