Counter IED training amongst nations
November 14, 2012
ZARAGOZA, Spain -- Engineers from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command trained with their Spanish counterparts during a multinational joint training exercise Oct. 26 to Nov. 1, here in the San Gregorio Training Center in Zaragoza, Spain.
The exercise known as Interdict 12, hosted by the Spanish Engineer Command, was held to foster and enhance the interoperability among engineer units towards counter improvised explosive device operations. The intent was to focus on the roles that military engineers can perform to defeat the enemy's IED system using a scenario as similar to past deployments.
The 21st TSC sent 1st platoon from the 541st Sapper Company, 54th Engineer Battalion, 18th Engineer Brigade to participate as the route clearance element and represent the U.S. Army.
"It has been great for us, because when we conduct route clearance training we are typically the main effort or the lead of the operation whereas here we serve as a secondary role which is similar to how we will be utilized in Afghanistan and other operations," said 2nd Lt. Chris Wagner, platoon leader and native of Bel Air, Md.
"We walk the roads and clear the roads for follow on units being logistical clips to infantry moving into their sector to do different types of missions. For us we are going to clear everyday any day, so every day we can train doing those things, getting practice, learning from our faults or vehicle problems is going to help however the troops look at it," said Sgt. 1st Class Augustine Haro, platoon sergeant and native of Modesto, Calif.
"I appreciate the opportunity to come and fail in a safe environment, so when we finally deploy we will be ready to be successful and bring all of our troops home alive," said Wagner.
Overcoming the language barrier proved to be a minor hindrance when coordinating link-up times and rehearsals, according to Wagner. Soldiers who were proficient in Spanish interpreted between leaders.
"Sometimes they still had to communicate without me, because I was occupied. When my platoon was on the ground with Spanish soldiers, they had to use signals or other means to communicate," said Spc. Alberto Apolinario, a combat engineer from Newark, N.J.
"It is close to what we will see in combat working with other NATO forces pertaining to the difficulty of making link ups and language barriers to exactly let the commander know what our capabilities are and how to best use us in their missions," said Haro. "Communication is key."
"It is a once in a lifetime and very unique and appreciated opportunity to train with the Spanish. I would say that we really lucked out being selected as the representative for the United States for this mission," said Wagner.