By 2nd Lt. Benjamin SoosSeptember 21, 2015
GRAFENWOEHR TRAINING AREA, Germany- Paratroopers from the 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade conducted a monthlong consolidated skills training exercise here Aug. 1 through Sept. 2, 2015.
This is the first field training exercise for the 54th, which activated in June, re-designated to replace the 173rd Special Troops Battalion. During the exercise, paratroopers trained on individual and platoon-level skills and also fielded new route clearance vehicles.
The training on clearance vehicles was technically demanding; Soldiers spent the first half of the fielding period in the classroom learning about capabilities of the vehicles. During the training, the paratroopers qualified on five different vehicles, seven weapons systems, and fielded the Buffalo Mine-Protected Clearance Vehicles and Husky Vehicle-Mounted Mine-Detection Systems.
"The 54th Engineer Battalion has been allocated this new equipment due to our designation as an engineering unit," said Capt. Brian T. Williams, commander, Company B. "With an increase in engineers, the additional asset of route clearance equipment has been added to the brigade."
After completing the U.S. Army-level fielding and training, a team of route clearance experts from Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., came to Grafenwoehr to further validate paratroopers on the route clearance vehicles.
"Training on the Husky Route Clearance equipment increased my confidence in performing route clearance and finding potential IEDs," said Pfc. Alexander Riccardi, an engineer with Company B.
In addition to the route- clearance mission, paratroopers also trained on explosive and manual breaching and conducted dismounted movements.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the U.S. Army Contingency Response Force in Europe and is ready and able to deploy forces anywhere in the U.S. European, Africa and Central Commands areas of responsibility within 18 hours.