By Capt. Robert TaylorJune 18, 2018
BOISE, Idaho - Under wartime conditions, 12B combat engineers must strategically place primed M1A3 Bangalore torpedoes in wire obstacles, tie them together for detonation and move to a safe standoff distance as quick as possible while taking heavy fire from the enemy.
The explosion lasts only split seconds but is powerful enough to reduce enemy obstacles from the battlefield, clearing the way for maneuver elements to reach its objectives.
While Soldiers from the Idaho Army National Guard's 116th Brigade Engineer Battalion and the Army Reserve's 321st Engineer Battalion completed the training task together June 15, 2018, at the Orchard Combat Training Center, Boise, Idaho, without enemy fire, the training was still realistic as the Soldiers became familiar with employing the weapon system and working with members of different components.
"It was awesome," said Pvt. McKenzy Bradley, a combat engineer with the 321st Engineer Battalion 391st Engineer Company (MA).
The lowest ranking Soldier in each firing iteration was selected to detonate the Bangalore torpedoes, which were placed by teams of Soldiers from both the 116th Brigade Engineer Battalion and the 321st Engineer Battalion. Bangalores are explosive charges placed in tubes used to clear three-meter paths through wire obstacles or heavy undergrowth.
"Inexperienced Soldiers got hands-on training with new pieces of equipment from experienced noncommissioned officers," said Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Cook, operations sergeant for A Company, 116th Brigade Engineer Battalion and the range's safety officer. "Both National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers showed proficiency in reducing triple-strand concertina obstacles using the Bangalore kit."
The training lane was conducted as part of the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team's eXportable Combat Training Capabilities rotation. XCTC brings full training resource packages to the National Guard, which allows units to use realistic training scenarios to certify platoon combat readiness. The exercise involves more than 3,000 Soldiers and Airmen from the Army National Guard, the Army Reserve and the Oregon Air National Guard's 123rd Weather Flight.
"Cross-training allows for TTPs (Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures) to be shared and allows for a broader knowledge base in the combat engineer field," Cook said.
Throughout the 24-day rotation, engineers from both engineer battalions have worked together as part of the same task force to support the 116th CBCT's maneuver forces.
"Integrating with maneuver units gives company commanders that experience of assisting maneuver elements with mobility, counter mobility and survivability operations," said Capt. Paul Meehan, assistant operations officer for the 321st Engineer Battalion.
"This training gives them the chance to work with maneuver elements that don't have engineer assets and to build interoperability between components. When we get deployed, that's what we do."
The units have previously trained together on Gowen Field and conducted a live-fire MILICIC range together June 13. In addition, Soldiers from the 321st Engineer Battalion's 672nd Engineer Company (Vertical Construction) and 751 Engineer Detachment (Concrete) are currently spending their annual training renovating and improving the classroom facility located on the Orchard Combat Training Center.
The 116th Engineer Battalion provides support to the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team and consists of Alpha Company, based in Mountain Home and Gooding; Bravo Company, based in Moscow, Grangeville, and Orofino; Charlie and Delta Companies, both based in Boise; and Echo Company, 145th Brigade Support Battalion, headquartered in Jerome.
Mobility augmentation companies from the 321st Engineer Battalion and its Forward Support Company are participating in the rotation. The mobility augmentation companies are the 391st Engineer Company (MA) from Boise, the 744th Engineer Company (MA) from Odgen, Utah, and the 455th Engineer Company (MA) from Hayden, Idaho.