By Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Richard Sherba, 8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs, 8th Theater Sustainment CommandFebruary 11, 2014
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Soldiers from the 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, started off the New Year with a fast paced, rigorous two-week battalion wide field training exercise that challenged 'Never Daunted' Soldiers both physically and mentally; simultaneously conducted in training areas throughout U.S. Army Garrison - Hawaii, Jan. 13 - 27.
"The training exercise was designed to validate our platoons ability to execute their tactical defend and move tasks in combat conditions, while simultaneously stressing the three echelons of command; including platoon, company, and battalion," said Lt. Col. Aaron Reisinger, commander, 84th Eng. Bn.
Soldiers from the 84th Eng. Bn. had been training in squad and platoon elements in the months leading up to the culminating event.
"We've been training up for this FTX the past quarter. We started out training in teams, squads, and then the platoon level. Now we are seeing the benefits of that training as we integrate it into the company, and battalion atmospheres. Executing these tasks with real OPFOR [opposing force] and real mission sets is a great opportunity for my Soldiers," said 1st Lt. Angela Smith, platoon leader, 643rd Engineer Company, 84th Eng. Bn.
Smith continued, "to be able to coordinate with the additional units; being aware of adjacent units; requesting additional assets; communicating with our company; all these added a whole new level of planning that you don't get to experience when your conducting field training exercises with just your platoon."
Sgt. Adam Fickel, squad leader, 1st Platoon, 643rd Eng. Co., 84th Eng. Bn. also spoke about the impact the multi echelon training had on himself and his Soldiers.
"Sometimes Soldiers may wonder, why are we doing this? Why are we doing that? So it helps [Soldiers] understand the military better as a whole. Sometimes when you're coming up through the ranks you only see your lane, but by seeing all the different components come together and perform their different roles allows us a better understanding of why things happen the way they do," said Fickel. "Once my Soldiers saw all this, and experienced it, and saw all the planning that goes into our missions, they came away with a better understanding of why things happen the way they do."
Fickel then reflected on one of his most memorable experiences from the training, which highlighted some of the physical demands Soldiers encountered in the field.
"The training was intense and definitely high speed," said Fickel. "For instance, this was the first time I have ever dug a foxhole in my career, we we're all sweating, and I mean everyone. But it was great digging foxholes with my Soldiers. It was actually fun, everyone was working together and cohesive, it really made us bond."
Smith echoed the squad leader's sentiments.
"Real resilience training happens out in the field and my platoon toughed it out the whole time, I am real proud of everything my Soldiers did and all the training that was done prior to the exercise that was put into practice," said Smith.
After the exercise had come to an end, the 84th Engineer Battalion Commander reflected on the event.
"The Soldiers endured a tough 96 hours of continuous and high intense activity. All elements of the battalion were stretched and grew tremendously from the training. We will continue to put our formations in tough and realistic training conditions to maintain a trained, tough and resilient formation," said Reisinger.