By Devon L. Suits, Army News ServiceFebruary 16, 2018
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- The Army's Engineer Regiment provides a diverse range of capabilities to assure mobility and counter mobility, enhance protection, and build partner capacity.
Grouped together into three distinct engineering disciplines -- combat, general, and geospatial engineering -- the profession relies on the skills and ingenuity of people, rather than equipment, or technology.
The Army Engineer Regiment's motto is "Essayons - Let Us Try."
Col. Martin D. Snider, commander of the 1st Engineer Brigade, said that motto really illustrates that engineers love a challenge.
"Solving hard problems for others is incredibly satisfying," said Snider. "Give us a hard problem and we'll figure it out."
All three engineering disciplines play a vital role in support of the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense, said Snider.
GEOSPATIAL ENGINEERING -- SHOW THE WAY
Serving as a foundation to the combat and general engineering disciplines, geospatial engineering helps create a common operational picture through the collection of information about a physical operating environment.
"Geospatial engineers show the way," said Staff Sgt. Jimerion Daniels, a geospatial engineer instructor. "We work with the three phases of combat: operations, strategic and tactical. Before Soldiers get there, while they're there, and if anything happens, 12Ys are there providing support."
Daniels said geospatial engineers help commanders see the battlefield better.
"We simplify the battlefield to help leadership make those crucial decisions as far as mobility and counter-mobility of an area," he said.
Geospatial information is collected through terrain analysis and terrain visualization, to include three-dimensional terrain mapping and fly-through representations. Soldiers operating in the career field play a vital role in the development and creation of nonstandard, tailored map products.
These map products help indicate the optimal zone of entry for military forces and determine the most efficient path between two locations. They also include visible data about the geographical area to help Soldiers navigate any given terrain, and include information about the movement and distribution of water sources.
During his last assignment, Daniels said he found a lot of success working as a force multiplier in support of overseas operations.
In an effort to advise commanders serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, Daniels and his team operated remotely to help assist in the maneuverability of in-theater forces.
To accomplish this, the team worked similar operating hours as their deployed counterparts and relied on geospatial information collected from satellites and deployed engineering assets.
"During one of our missions, one of the deployed units was closing down a small combat outpost and moving to a larger forward operating base," Daniels said. "We created a route analysis, which included the distance of the route traveled, any hazards along the route, and possible stopping points and check points."
In addition to supporting in-theater operations, Daniels and his team helped provide support to realignment efforts.
During that time, the team designated areas for the construction of new buildings, and designed containment areas during the destruction of older facilities. More importantly, the team also supported the local Soldier population by identifying alternate routes around the installation.
Having worked as a 12Y for the past 17 years, Daniels now serves as a geospatial engineering instructor at the Army's Engineer School on Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
"We're teaching students the basics -- all the small intricate pieces on how to create engineering products," he said. "We are showing them new software and teaching them how to use it."
Overall, Daniels said he relishes the opportunity to give back to the career field that raised him.
GENERAL ENGINEERING -- MODIFY, MAINTAIN, PROTECT
In addition to the combat and geospatial engineering disciplines, general engineering encompasses all capabilities and activities that modify, maintain, or protect a physical environment.
The general engineering discipline is responsible for a majority of the Army's operational support and encompasses many engineering career fields. General engineering occurs throughout all area of operations, at all levels of war, and during every type of military operation.
Although most of the offensive and defensive tactical operations are carried out by combat engineers, general engineering still plays a vital role in supporting ground force commanders by assuring mobility and counter mobility, and enhancing protection.
Tasks associated with the general engineering discipline include damage restoration, basecamp construction, environmental assessment, surveying and design support, and power generation and distribution.
12R INTERIOR ELECTRICIANS
In support of the Army's general engineering discipline, interior electricians are responsible for the installation and maintenance of internal electrical systems, said Staff Sgt. Curtis Hudson, a 12R instructor at Fort Leonard Wood.
In just six weeks of training, students learn the fundamentals of electricity and proper troubleshooting techniques. Students also learn how to safely install electrical equipment, facility wiring, switches, and lighting.
"Anytime an engineering unit goes to the field, 12Rs help provide the power," Hudson said. "We bring out generators to power the command cell so they can send messages to higher leadership. You need electricity to get that information out."
In addition to supporting military infrastructure and operations, electricians, along with other engineering specialties, have a longstanding history of providing humanitarian support.
Hudson recalled his time with the 130th Engineering Battalion based in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. During that time, he participated in Operation Pacific Angel, a joint mission that provided engineering and medical support throughout the Pacific region.
"I've gone to Nepal and Papua, New Guinea. We went and fixed schools for unfortunate children that didn't have the necessities that we have in the U.S," Hudson said.
"We gave them all new lights, desks, windows, doors and steps," he said. "Some buildings even received air conditioning. It was one of the coolest things I have done."
12T TECHNICAL ENGINEERING
Similar to the internal electrician field, 12Ts also pay a vital role in the Army's general engineering discipline.
Technical engineers supervise or participate in construction site development, help draft construction specifications, and prepare detailed plans for construction projects, said Staff Sgt. Brandon Mangiapane, a 12T instructor.
"We do anything -- from pull-up bars, to asphalt fields, to airfields. It doesn't matter what it is," he said.
Through the 16 weeks of training, Soldiers learn the steps to conceptualize a project, he said. They will use GPS survey technology to survey a site, design a project using computer aided drafting software, and develop an understanding of soil composition and how it impacts a project's construction.
"The longest project I've had is in Afghanistan," Mangiapane said. "There was an eight-month project for a retrograde sort yard. Probably the weirdest project was some basketball courts, but instead of just a plain slab, the customer wanted the engineer logo cemented in."
(Editor's note: In support of Army Engineer Week, this is the second story of a four-part series about Army engineers and their profession.)