VAZIANI TRAINING AREA, Georgia - U.S. Soldiers of the 500th Engineer Support Company (ESC), 15th Engineer Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, 21st Sustainment Theater Command, Grafenwoehr, Germany, and soldiers of the 1st Engineer Sapper Company, Engineer Brigade, of the Georgian Armed Forces establish a company-sized engagement area at Vaziani Training Area, Georgia, Aug. 6.
The 500th ESC currently resides in the Republic of Georgia to participate in Exercise Noble Partner. Noble Partner is a multinational, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise conducting home station training for the Georgian light infantry company designated for the NATO Response Force.
In Noble Partner, there are different forces with different capabilities and objectives, said Capt. Kyle Davis, commander, 500th ESC. The exercise allows his company to be tested in their ability to develop the engagement area, and maneuver commanders will come in and test their abilities of using the positions to achieve their effects.
Engineers rely on terrain first and foremost, he said.
"Initially, you look at at a map, then you get down on the ground and look at what the ground truth is," Davis said. "If you can find a good piece of terrain to tie an obstacle into, that helps achieve your effect."
The live-fire scenario features an approaching enemy around a border outpost. Knowing the path, the Georgian Army emplaced a defensive perimeter. Lumber and wire constructions will be between two anti-vehicular ditches built into the terrain. As enemy forces travel down into the valley, they will be engaged by friendlies in 18 battle positions grouped throughout the terrain.
The lumber and wire construction is a unique Georgian defense, he said. The obstacle is a more sturdy and permanent structure.
"The Georgian Army is teaching us how to emplace that lumber obstacle, and we're using our assets to assist them in digging the holes," Davis said. "So it's really a good, collective training opportunity that we both learn each other's tactics, techniques and procedures."
From a horizontal engineer perspective, the earth itself is an asset, said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Scott Lofgren, horizontal construction sergeant, squad leader, 500th Engineer Support Company. In Army doctrine, the simplest solution is to dig at a depth and width no vehicle can cross.
Unfortunately, personnel could still advance on foot.
The Georgian engineers integrate materials like wire into their defense strategy. The lumber is placed at a depth and angle that it would not be easily overcome. Wire attached to the lumber will aid in keep personnel out.
"I'm learning a lot more about their materials and the math they do in order to set them up with the proper angles to make them effective," Lofgren commented. "I'm being able to teach them the math we do, as far as calculations in moving earth in what we need to get done."
The lumber and wire obstacle is set up in triples. This means the obstacle consists of three offset layers of lumber and wire.
This type of layering is not easily neutralized, Lofgren said. Triples will make the obstacle more difficult to deal with than traditional breaching methods like Bangalores.
Noble Partner is just another learning opportunity.
"It's good to get out and meet other people and see their view points and the way they do things, because that gives you a new perspective," Lofgren said. "Either you take it and you use it or you compare it against what you're already doing."
Whatever the answer or result, methods for improvement should always considered.
Training in Georgia has its challenges and rewards.
The uneven, rocky terrain is unlike Grafenwoehr's level ground, Davis commented. The type of terrain the unit is digging into is mostly a new experience, especially with equipment the unit would not normally use to emplace battle positions.
Cover and concealment play a role in establishing battle positions. After the position is digged, the spoil or soil from the hole is cleared away from the sides. This camouflages the battle position into the normal terrain, preventing easy recognition by an enemy.
Digging battle positions to depth gives the tank the best opportunity to engage with the enemy and get out of it alive, he said.
Interestingly, the battle positions were not created to U.S. tank dimensions. As the maneuver commander, Col. Patrick Ellis, commander of 2nd Cavalry Regiment, made a strategic decision to build the positions to the dimensions of the T-72, a battle tank used by the Georgian Armed Forces.
The reasoning behind this action relates to the range belongs to the Georgian Armed Forces. Therefore, the Georgian army would be the first personnel to occupy the battle positions. They would utilize the battle positions more often, to greater effect.