FORT RILEY, Kan. -- The Soldiers of the "Dagger" Brigade sharpened their military expertise with their June 30 graduation from the Urban Mobility Breachers Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. The five Soldiers are from Company B, 82nd Engineer Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division -- and one of the five, Pfc. Samantha Carrillo, became the first enlisted female to graduate from the course.

The course is usually reserved for Soldiers in the minimum grade of specialist. Carrillo needed a waiver from her unit to attend.

Enroute to her graduation, Carrillo also earned the Sapper Spirit Award, an honor that came from her fellow Soldiers in the class.

The training provided Carrillo and her fellow graduates the skills needed to gain entry into buildings, a utility essential to Soldiers operating in an urban environment.

According to Capt. Joseph J. Codichini, commander of Company B, 82nd Engineer Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, gaining entry into buildings allows his company to accomplish a set of important objectives.

"We want to get in there (buildings) because either the bad guys are in there or we want to keep the bad guys from getting in there," he said.

Tall buildings give Soldiers a decided advantage in urban warfare, Codichini said. "We want to deny the enemy that position, or we want to take that position from the enemy.

"Bravo company's mission is mobility, counter-mobility and survivability, plus reconnaissance for roads, or route reconnaissance," Codichini continued. "What urban mobility folks bring as a result of this training is, when we get into urban environments we are no longer hindered by buildings. Having urban mobility folks helps us get into buildings."

Breaching can be as simple as using hammers or other hand tools to gain entry, or it can involve explosives, Carrillo said. "We'll use different kinds of explosives. We were taught how to put them together, how far away we can stand without being injured. So we learned how to get into the building, then clear it of any enemy that's in there. My goal is to get my team in there to clear the building."

Codichini said there is no mandate that requires his team to have urban mobility breachers, but Carrillo earned her way into the class, along with four other platoon Soldiers, with top performances at the most recent Danger Focus exercises. "I made a deal with her platoon leader that, if they do well at Danger Focus II, I'll work to get them into one of these schools as a reward," he said.

That platoon leader was 1st Lt. Marissa Ferris who, along with Carrillo's platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Jones, turned to the task of getting Soldiers ready for the UMBC, including Carrillo.

"She's always shown aggressive performance at work," Jones said. "She's always in the appropriate uniform. She's very knowledgeable on the stuff we teach her. When it comes to engineering tasks, she shows a progression of getting better. As the days and months go along, ask her any question about just about any engineering task, and she will more than likely be able to answer that question."

The training was extensive but the goal was worth it, Carrillo said.

"We had been doing a lot of training prior (to the school), so when they told me I had the slot, I was pretty excited," Carrillo said. "It caught me by surprise, but I was excited."

Carrillo gives credit to Ferris for helping her.

"My LT (her platoon leader, 1st Lt. Ferris) really helped me a lot to get this course," Carrillo said. "She was the one who really pushed me. And I did better than I thought I would. I got the Sapper Spirit Award which was given after a class vote."

As for her parents, her mother was "pretty proud," Carrillo said. "I am the first female in my family to do any military."

When she graduated from high school, the El Paso, Texas native went to tell her mother and father she wanted to enlist in the Army.

Her mother was all for it, Carrillo said, "But my father? Not so much. You know, I'm his little girl. But now, they are both really proud and very happy for me."

Editor's note: Mrs. Valerie Collins of the Fort Leonard Wood Guidon newspaper, provided information for this story.