HOHENFELS, Germany (April 4, 2018) -- Approximately 165 Army National Guard engineer Soldiers, and eight Army Reserve Soldiers participated in the Joint Multinational Readiness Center's annual troop construction work project, March 11 -- 31.
In the first of five upcoming rotations for Troop Construction 2018, Soldiers from 922nd Engineer Company (Horizontal), Louisiana Army National Guard, and 859th Engineer Company (Vertical), Mississippi Army National Guard, and Soldiers with the Army Reserve's 377th Forward Engineer Support Team - Advanced, fulfilled their required annual training by deploying to JMRC's Hohenfels Training Area to construct several projects high on U.S. Army Europe's premier combat training center's priority list.
Most of the Soldiers from the southern states were not accustom to the German winter weather, but they completed several much needed construction projects despite snow and frigid temperatures.
"It's pretty cold here," said Spc. Alexus Caster, a carpentry and masonry specialist with the 859th Engineer Company. "However, once we started working we adapted pretty quick."
Twenty-year-old Caster is one of many younger Soldiers who conducted her National Guard annual training in Germany. In fact, this is the first opportunity she has had to hone her craft building something since her initial military occupational skill training.
"This is a great training opportunity for us," added Caster. "This allows us to work in different climates and prepares us in case we ever deploy and find ourselves somewhere where we're not used to."
The 859th Engineer Company (Vertical) is a typical construction company, much akin to a general contractor who would build a house, or school. Generally anything the Army requires with the full gamut of specialists from plumbers to electricians.
The annual troop construction work project was a win-win for both the National Guard units and JMRC as the units were allowed the opportunity to train in a real-world situation similar to a deployment, and JMRC reaped the rewards of their labor at little extra expense.
The 922nd Engineer Company (Horizontal) is a heavy equipment unit that is capable of building and repairing roads, runways, clearing wooded areas, and moving tons of earth and material to complete any construction project for the Army.
Capt. Tykesia Prier, commander of the 922nd Engineer Company, recognized the outstanding training opportunities in the Hohenfels Training Area.
"This training allows our Soldiers to continue with their driver's training, while introducing newer Soldiers the opportunity to develop operational skills," said Prier.
Maj. Hector Mojica, chief of troop construction for JMRC's Army Reserve Engagement Cell, said the program is a successful one that provides a unique readiness-enhancing opportunity for reserve component units deploying to JMRC.
"We provide a training platform and the tools and equipment necessary for engineer construction units to train on their mission essential task list and on real-world construction missions, said Mojica.
"At the same time, the engineer projects enhance JMRC's training capabilities through infrastructure development in a cost-efficient manner. It really is a win-win situation."
JMRC's executive officer, Lt. Col. Mathew Price, also weighed in on the importance of the troop construction program.
"Troop construction units are vital to the survival of our infrastructure as they extend the lifespan of facilities in the training area, which supports the rotations," said Price. "These units provide a vertical, horizontal, and design capability that does not exist at Hohenfels as the Garrison Directorate of Public Works does not have equipment or manning to keep pace with projects in the training area.
"JMRC is committed to assisting these units on increasing readiness while in theater, and not have JMRC be a readiness consumer. U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard training time is precious, and we want them to build proficiency at METL tasks, while in turn we increase our readiness to support unit exercises"
Sgt. 1st Class James Trotter, superintendent of one of the construction projects assigned to the 859th Engineer Company, also appreciated the unique opportunity.
"We're always in a training mode," said Trotter. "But this gives some of our Soldiers an opportunity to hone some of their skills and experience what it's like to work in a different environment.
"Our unit may be deploying next year, so we are capitalizing on this opportunity. Hopefully this will broaden some of the younger Soldiers' horizon, but at the same time remind them that the actual work performed is basically the same whether at home, or overseas."