HOHENFELS, Germany - With hours spent inside military vehicles and crawling along a route at speeds of five kilometers per hour trying to find explosives meant to disable other military formations, no one ever said route clearance was a glamorous job. It's a tedious job, requiring a lot of patience and knowledge of the possible dangers to be searching for on the battlefield.

Yet it's a job that the Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, 42nd Clearance Company, 54th Engineer Battalion were learning to perfect here from Feb. 14 to March 2. Their primary mission while at the Hohenfels Training Area was to conduct route clearance patrols in support of the Georgian National Army's 33rd Light Infantry Battalion, as the unit prepares for a deployment to Afghanistan.

"We needed to show (the 33rd Light Inf. Bn.) our capabilities as a route clearance platoon so they could utilize us effectively to complete their mission," said 2nd Lt. Anthony Cichorz, 2nd platoon leader from Chesapeake, Va.

During this training exercise, the 33rd Light Inf. Bn.'s mission included conducting raids of weapons caches, combating planned assaults on their operating bases and conducting engagements throughout the cities.

"Our route clearance patrols were simulated and executed just as they would be in real-world situations. It really helped my guys build cohesion and learn to enjoy what can sometimes be a slow, painful process," said Cichorz.

Throughout the exercise, communication became difficult between the two nations due to the language barrier and the availability of interpreters.

Even still, Pfc. Dustin A. Eudy, a combat engineer from Canton, Ohio, recognized the significance of the combined effort.
"It was important that we learn to interact with other units and different countries for our route clearance patrols," Eudy said. "We may have to work with them while deployed so it's good to get used to it now."

Pfc. Darvale Ingram, a combat engineer from Chicago, described how Soldiers from the 33rd Inf. Bn. played an integral role in the success of one of their Medical Evacuations.

"We brought the casualty to a landing zone near the Georgian post and they were able to help us pull security so we could focus on caring for the wounded Soldier," said Ingram.

The platoon cleared nearly 250 kilometers of road throughout the two and a half week exercise, providing safer traveling conditions for those units operating in the battlespace.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16