• Reserve Soldiers from the 449th Engineer Company perform a dismounted roadside bomb search during a route clearance convoy at the National Training Center.

    Reserve Soldiers from the 449th Engineer...

    Reserve Soldiers from the 449th Engineer Company perform a dismounted roadside bomb search during a route clearance convoy at the National Training Center.

  • Pfc. Christopher Sims, a combat engineer with the 449th Engineer Company deploys an unmanned aerial vehicle (PUMA) at the National Training Center, Mar. 20, 2012. The PUMA equipped with infrared cameras and capable of flying out ahead of route clearance patrols to identify potential threats. (Photo: Spc. Devin Wood, 412th TEC Public Affairs)

    Pfc. Christopher Sims, a combat engineer with...

    Pfc. Christopher Sims, a combat engineer with the 449th Engineer Company deploys an unmanned aerial vehicle (PUMA) at the National Training Center, Mar. 20, 2012. The PUMA equipped with infrared cameras and capable of flying out ahead of route...

  • Cpl. Cody Michaud, a combat engineer with the 449th Engineer Company scans his sector of fire while a dismount team searches for roadside bombs during a route clearance mission at the National Training Center Mar. 21, 2012. The 449th was responsible for keeping key logistical routes open for 3rd Infantry Division. (Photo: Spc. Devin Wood, 412th TEC Public Affairs)

    Cpl. Cody Michaud, a combat engineer with the...

    Cpl. Cody Michaud, a combat engineer with the 449th Engineer Company scans his sector of fire while a dismount team searches for roadside bombs during a route clearance mission at the National Training Center Mar. 21, 2012. The 449th was responsible...

FT. IRWIN, Calif. -- The harsh terrain of the Mojave Desert allows for realistic training and a chance for units to exercise their skill sets in an environment similar to the Middle East.

Army Reserve Soldiers from the 449th Engineer Company, 478th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade, had the opportunity to train and assess their combat support expertise at the National Training Center, Feb. 19 to Mar. 23, 2012.

For five weeks, members of the Fort Thomas, Kentucky-based unit participated in complex training scenarios and conducted route clearance operations in preparation for their deployment to Afghanistan.

"This is the best training I can give my Soldiers before going down range," said Capt. Travis W. Absher, commander of 449th Engineer Company.

The 449th supported the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, by keeping all logistical routes clear of roadside bombs and insurgent activities.

"Working alongside 3rd ID gives us the chance to show that the Army Reserve is capable of operating during war time," said Absher. "We aren't just weekend warriors. "

Many of the Soldiers operated route clearance equipment for the first time during the rotation.

"We don't have all of this equipment back at home station," said Cpl. Cody Michaud, a squad leader with 2nd platoon. "Being here and having these things issued to us really helps us prepare better."

"The STX lanes were pretty intense," said Spc. Michael Klahnen, a team leader with 2nd Platoon, 449th Engineer Company. "Opposing forces, IEDs (roadside bombs) allowed us to exercise our basic skills."

Absher said the training scenario at NTC has honed his Soldiers skills and increased survivability.

"My payment will be bringing all these Soldiers home safely," said Absher.

Page last updated Sat March 31st, 2012 at 00:00