449th Engineer Company train at NTC in preparation for deployment
March 31, 2012
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.