By 1st Lt. Vanessa Dudley, 1st Battalion, 361st Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public AffairsOctober 8, 2013
McGREGOR RANGE, N.M. - The 1st Battalion, 361st Engineer Regiment, Task Force Redhawk, 5th Armored Brigade recently conducted two days of counter-improvised explosive device training with the Louisiana National Guard's 1021st Vertical Engineer Company, based out of Covington, La.
While their primary mission will be conducting deconstruction and refurbishment missions out of Kuwait, there is a potential to conduct missions in Afghanistan, Jordan, and the Horn of Africa.
The 1021st was trained by TF Redhawk to acquire the basic fundamentals of countering the IED threat that most deployed units face on a daily basis. The company previously deployed to Afghanistan in 2003, but the threats to Soldiers while deployed ten years ago vastly differ from what they may face today.
"Some of us are still using the tactics and procedures that were used 10 years ago, the last time we deployed," said Sgt. Raymond Wissing, a squad leader with the 1021st. "By seeing these new tactics and perspectives, we are able to better understand how to fight in the 21st century battlefield."
On the first day of training, Soldiers spent the first half of the day listening to briefs on IED topics. The second half of the day, they received hands-on training to IED's in order to, not only hear about the components and indicators of an IED, but also be able to see and touch inert replicas.
Day two of training tested what was taught on the day one, as Soldiers had to react to possible hidden IED's, interact with local nationals, interpreters, and react to the after effects of an IED such as treating a wounded Soldier and conducting a medical evacuation.
"It's a good way for me, as a commander, to see what the capabilities of my platoon leaders and squad leaders are when they are put in an environment with the added pressure of a situation that includes the possible enemy," said Capt. Noel Bellas, 1021st Engineer Company commander. "I also loved the realism of the training because dealing with interpreters and the Host Nation Army is not something we had to deal with on our previous deployment."
Since returning from Afghanistan in 2003, the 1021st conducted numerous missions under Louisiana's All Hazards Plan. The company provided their vertical expertise and helping hands during Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike.
They also provided assistance during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. They built HESCO bastions, which are retaining wall blocks to keep flood waters at bay, for Operation River Guardian, where rising Mississippi River waters in 2011 became a potential hazard to the town of Krotz Springs, La.
"We are not only training them to deal with real world disasters but also real world combat," said Staff Sgt. Jesus Zambrano, a trainer/mentor with TF Redhawk. "We are also building the foundation for them to work as a structured team, and once they have that, they can take on anything the world throws at them."