By Staff Sgt. David ChapmanJune 17, 2013
YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, WA.- Trucks rumbled across the vast land of Yakima Training Center, WA, causing a cloud of dust to spread over the area. Suddenly, the tricks stop and the engineers jump out immediately searching out the explosive, deadly device the enemy leaves for the unsuspecting.
The 22nd Engineer Clearance Company conducted a mission readiness exercise May 29-June 7, training for their upcoming deployment to construct safe routes for convoys passing through Afghanistan later this year.
This weeklong training exercise tested the engineer company's common tasks such as convoy operations, vehicle recovery and reacting to enemy contact.
"We have a combination of a live fire exercise, three days of continuous route clearance missions and one day just for retraining," said Lt. Col. Doug Brown, commander, 14th Engineer Battalion, "I'm very pleased with everything the company has done and they continue to show improvement on these tasks."
Though the company returned from their previous deployment about a year ago, the unit has seen a large turnover in new Soldiers reporting to the unit.
In addition to the change over, the soldiers with experience will face a new challenge during this upcoming deployment. Never the less, Brown said his soldiers will be ready for the mission.
"You can see that the older, more experienced Soldiers are teaching the newer guys. This will all come together for the mission," said Brown. "This time they will be going to a different Regional Command."
For many the journey and mission that awaits them in Afghanistan is something they have been hoping for their entire career.
"A lot of the excitement for these soldiers comes from a new adventure and going to do the job they have trained for in a real environment," said Brown. "The leaders understand that what they will be doing is an important part of a larger mission and it gives them pride."
Though there were several key tasks all associated with the training, teamwork was the main goal.
"These Soldiers learned a lot about what it means to communicate and work together as a team," said 1st Lt. Jonathan Chew, training observer controller, 111th Engineer Company, Fort Riley, Ks. "It is better that they learn these skills here, before they go where mistakes can cost people's lives."
As the dust settled and the sun faded, Chew shared a word of advice to the soldiers and what they should expect as they head to Afghanistan.
"Leaders, trust your NCO's, they will never lead you astray," said Chew. "And soldiers, be confident in your skills, equipment and each other and you'll do fine."