By CourtesyMarch 10, 2014
By 1st. Lt. Connor Kilpatrick, 95th Engineer Company, 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Handling demolitions is a dangerous task best left to qualified professionals, but even those professionals need practice.
That practice came for the Sappers of the 95th Engineer Company (Clearance), 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, when they conducted a Blow in Place demolition range, March 5, here.
The purpose of this training was to reinforce the basic demolition instruction that combat engineer Soldiers receive during basic training and advanced individual training.
During the training, the Sappers of the 95th Eng. Company, "Wolfpack," practiced unexploded ordnance identification, charge construction and the inert grenade qualification course.
For many of the young Sappers on the range, this was an opportunity to increase proficiency with Modern Demolition Initiator systems, an essential component to being an effective combat engineer.
While most Sappers have handled demolitions prior to arriving at their first duty station, demolitions ranges conducted by their Sapper companies are usually the first opportunity to become proficient.
The range was the perfect opportunity to combine the traditional Sapper task of minefield breaching with the route clearance; a role many combat engineer companies have found themselves in during recent deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
A standard BIP charge is generally composed of the minimum amount of explosive required to destroy small UXO or improvised explosive device throughout a mission. The small, versatile charge is easily portable and provides quick and effective clearance of point minefields while on a clearance mission.
The 95th Eng. Company also conducted an inert grenade qualification course as concurrent training. This prepared the soldiers for an upcoming live grenade range, which will allow many young Sappers to throw a live grenade for the first time since basic training. In addition, the unit incorporated training on communication equipment and nine-line medical evacuation requests into the BIP range, allowing soldiers to retain proficiency on basic warrior tasks and battle drills.
Staff Sgt. Caleb Smith, a squad leader who taught the UXO identification class, said he felt the training was effective and important - especially for the younger soldiers.
"Explosive hazards don't care about your age or [job]," said Smith. "Everybody is responsible for being able to identify and react to them."
Younger Soldiers on the range also stated that they were challenged by the mentally engaging training.
"It prepared me for current overseas operations," said Spc. Steven Billings, Sapper Soldier with the 95th Eng. Company, following the training. "It was good to go back to the basics,"
Overall, the BIP range was a successful training event said all involved. The range challenged all participants to display confidence when constructing and emplacing demolitions, while determining how to clear specific types of UXO. The demanding training allowed the Sappers of the 95th Eng. Company to become more adept at accomplishing their wartime function of clearing the way for a maneuver task force.