By 2nd Lt. Richard Hinman, 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 173rd Airborne BrigadeDecember 18, 2015
HOHENFELS, Germany -- U.S. and Europe-based airborne engineers kicked off the second week of Exercise Dagger Resolve with the airdrop of heavy Engineering equipment at Hohenfels Drop Zone here Dec. 7, 2015.
Dagger Resolve, an exercise focusing on the military engineer's role in airfield seizures, brought together a combined force from the 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade; 27th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps; 37th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division; and 15th Engineer Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade to train collectively on these tasks.
The engineer mission in an airfield seizure requires the engineer element to rapidly assess a flight landing strip for damage, clearing it of obstacles and then repairing damage in order to enable aircraft to deliver personnel and equipment. Because airfield damage can cripple the runway, Engineer vehicles are a critical asset when conducting an airfield seizure. If aircraft cannot take off and land on the FLS, friendly forces are unable to build and sustain combat power.
Shortly after arrival at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, the combined group of engineers prepared the drop zone to receive the first heavy equipment drop of engineer equipment at Hohenfels in more than a decade. After the drop the engineers rapidly de-rigged and employed the air-dropped equipment in order to repair the FLS.
"The de-rig is absolutely crucial following the airborne delivery of the equipment," said 1st Lt. Heidi Creed, an engineering officer with the 27th Eng. "The faster your equipment is up and running, the faster you can repair the FLS, and the faster the follow-on forces can get in. Every minute counts."
Afterwards, the sapper platoons of Cos. A. and B, 54th Eng. rehearsed assessing and clearing the Hohenfels FLS, while the engineers from the 27th and 37th provided their expertise as observer-controllers. The sappers maneuvered through wire and explosive obstacle simulators to clear the FLS. During this time, the paratroopers of the 54th developed their own platoon and company-level techniques to expedite the assessment and clearance of obstacles.
"Clearing and assessing an FLS is definitely a challenge, but by the time we left, our sappers could do it full-speed at night," said 1st Lt. Alex Cansler, a platoon leader with Co. A, 54th. "I think that this experience here at Hohenfels made us a lot more ready to take on this mission, anywhere, anytime."
The Grafenwoehr-based 15th Eng. Bn. supported the training by assisting equipment operators in reducing obstacles on the flight landing strip. They also provided equipment support and assisted the 54th's equipment operators in using skid steer loaders, excavators and other heavy equipment to repair craters.
By the end of Dagger Resolve, the Engineers of the 54th BEB had developed their own tactical standard operating procedures and equipment package for the airfield seizure mission and demonstrated the interoperability between four different Engineer battalions to exchange their domain knowledge and sharpen their own tactical capabilities at the battalion level.