• An Army soldier with the 535th Engineering Support Company, 54th Engineering Battalion stationed in Bamberg, Germany is detained by: U.S. Army soldiers on a route clearance patrol during a training operation in Grafenwoehr, Germany, at a range May 22, 2010. The soldier photographed imitates a townsperson in Afghanistan that is a possible threat to Army soldiers during a simulated route clearance patrol.

    Route clearing

    An Army soldier with the 535th Engineering Support Company, 54th Engineering Battalion stationed in Bamberg, Germany is detained by: U.S. Army soldiers on a route clearance patrol during a training operation in Grafenwoehr, Germany, at a range May 22...

  • Army Spc. Brannon Holley, a heavy equipment operator with the 535th Engineering Support Company, 54th Engineering Battalion stationed in Bamberg, Germany, is in the kneeling position scanning the area while on a route clearance patrol training exercise at a range in Grafenwoehr Training Area, Grafewoehr, Germany, May 22, 2010. Holley said this was his first time doing route clearing procedures, but this was good training for soldier skills and individual movement techniques.

    route clearing

    Army Spc. Brannon Holley, a heavy equipment operator with the 535th Engineering Support Company, 54th Engineering Battalion stationed in Bamberg, Germany, is in the kneeling position scanning the area while on a route clearance patrol training exercise...

  • An Army simulated buffalo vehicle, a 5-ton truck, scans a bronze cylindrical can that is identified as an improvised explosive device (IED) along the side of the road during a route clearance exercise in Grafenwoehr Training Area, Grafenwoehr, Germany, May 22, 2010. The components of the buffalo have cameras attached to the vehicle to scan IEDs. Once the IED is identified, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) personnel disable the device before other vehicles pass by.

    route clearing

    An Army simulated buffalo vehicle, a 5-ton truck, scans a bronze cylindrical can that is identified as an improvised explosive device (IED) along the side of the road during a route clearance exercise in Grafenwoehr Training Area, Grafenwoehr, Germany...

  • 1st Lt. James Puddicombe, platoon leader of first platoon in the 535th Engineering Support Company, 54th Engineering Battalion stationed in Bamberg, Germany, gives a short briefing to his platoon before departing to a range in Grafenwoehr Training Area, Grafenwoehr, Germany for a route clearance patrol exercise May 22, 2010. The mission allows soldiers to do route clearance, dismounted maneuvers, patrol and engaging enemy forces. The company has been cross trained for route clearance techniques, though their initial job specialties are engineering.

    route clearins

    1st Lt. James Puddicombe, platoon leader of first platoon in the 535th Engineering Support Company, 54th Engineering Battalion stationed in Bamberg, Germany, gives a short briefing to his platoon before departing to a range in Grafenwoehr Training...

  • Army soldiers with the 535th Engineering Support Company, 54th Engineering Battalion stationed in Bamberg, Germany conducts a route clearance patrol operation at a range in Grafenwoehr Training Area, Grafenwoehr, Germany, using scenarios that occur downrange May 22, 2010. Three Army soldiers dressed in Arabic clothing imitates townspeople in Afghanistan being detained by Army forces. Soldiers walk in front and behind detainees in efforts to patrol and contain any possible danger the detainees may cause.

    route clearing

    Army soldiers with the 535th Engineering Support Company, 54th Engineering Battalion stationed in Bamberg, Germany conducts a route clearance patrol operation at a range in Grafenwoehr Training Area, Grafenwoehr, Germany, using scenarios that occur...

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - The chill in the air is quickly removed as the sun appears to warm the Army Soldiers as they ready for their route clearance mission at a range in Grafenwoehr Training Area in Grafenwoehr, Germany, May 22, 2010.

The 1st platoon, filled with a mixture of heavy equipment operators, plumbers and carpenters, with the 535th Engineering Support Company, 54th Engineering Battalion stationed in Bamberg, Germany, stand in formation under the direction of Sgt. 1st Class Rodrick Carter, a heavy construction equipment supervisor in the unit.

Sgt. Daniel Martin, a heavy equipment operator in 535th Engineering Support Company, said route clearing included training routes, finding improvised explosive device (IEDs), dismount patrols and interrogating the enemy.

Each member, in the platoon of approximately 25 to 30 soldiers, is checked for proper equipment and battery life on the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES) gear they wear.
The agony of sitting and waiting overwhelms the motor pool occupants.

1st Lt. James Puddicombe, platoon leader of first platoon, gives a small briefing of what the Soldiers will do and what to expect from the training.

After, the briefing, the Soldiers are dispersed into seven vehicles for travel to the range.
Pfc. Mathew Schuh, a heavy equipment operator, drives a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), at a speed of 20 mph, keeping a 100 meter distance between the vehicles in front of him as directed by Puddicombe.

"Keeping a 100 meter distance between vehicles is a tactic, in case an IED hits," said Puddicombe. "Being close to that vehicle, two cars could get taken out."

Upon arrival, the Soldiers were set out to do their first training exercise in route clearing.
The seven vehicles drove on the rocky path of the training course of simulated scenarios that could occur in Afghanistan's cities.

Gunners sat at the top of two convoys, watchful of suspicious activity, while the radios in the vehicles transmitted messages from Puddicombe to the other members of the platoon.

Each path the vehicles take creates a new challenge for the platoon, as Soldiers transmit messages like noticing cylindrical cans that could be possible IEDs or possibly coming across insurgents.

In four hours, 1st platoon completed route clearing procedures without a single incident.

"Route clearance usually is an all day task ... could last for 18 hours or more, so this is nothing," Carter said.

Carter said the training course was a short, timed exercise representing an actual day long procedure when the unit has to do this during deployment.

Sgt. 1st Class Rodney Russell, the intelligence non-commissioned officer in charge in the 54th Engineering Battalion, said this would be an evaluation of the platoon doing route fire and route clearance.

"This is 535's first time doing Route Clearing Procedures (RCP), because they're used to construction and working," said Russell.

"There are no RCPs that are 100 percent," said Martin. "It what's working the best and when the enemy changes we have to change our tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs)."

Russell said he has confidence in the patrol elements, dismounted procedures and troop leading procedures for the upcoming deployment.

Russell returned from deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom about eight months ago, and soon will be deploying back to Afghanistan with the 54th Engineering Battalion.

Page last updated Fri June 25th, 2010 at 04:34