By Maj. Carson Petry (1st CAV)July 24, 2018
Plumes of smoke from explosive detonations were visible from Curry Demo as Combat Engineers from Alpha Company, 8th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division conducted a demolition range July 14-17.
"This week we've conducted demolitions and squad movements," said Staff Sgt. Charles Marsch, squad leader, Co. A, 8BEB. "But today is the culmination of a week in the field. The purpose is to get the Soldiers familiar with different ways to demo."
Combat engineers built a reputation conducting route clearance patrols (RCP) during counter-IED operations. But RCP is only one part of the numerous capabilities engineers bring to the fight. They're also experts at breaching operations, utilizing demolitions in a variety of means.
Countless hours are spent in the classroom discussing safety and theory, but hands-on training gives combat engineers the confidence and experience required to be useful during combat operations.
Marsch says the mission and available resources dictate how engineers will use demolitions. The charge depends on the obstacle a combat engineer must breach. Breaching a barrier gives maneuver forces the most expedient way to close with and destroy the enemy. It requires technical expertise in handling and creating explosive devices and detonation charges.
During the Roughrider's demolition range, Soldiers have trained on the Bangalore, water-impulse and concrete charges.
"The Bangalore is a torpedo shape with Composition C (C4) and detonation cord, said Marsch. "You lay that on top of the obstacle, and everything goes away. It's a crucial asset being mechanized because when we come up to an obstacle, the enemy likes to use concertina wire. The Bangalore clears the lane for the tanks. It makes the lanes faster, smoother and safer."
Marsch explained a concrete charge is a more advanced urban demolition charge that cuts through the wall. It leaves a hole in the wall, allowing infantry forces a way in and it's an exciting opportunity for the Soldiers to experience.
Marsch says new leadership across the battalion have encouraged training with demolitions, so the combat engineers have were afforded the opportunity to be in the field perfecting their craft, essentially raising morale in the unit.
New Soldiers are exposed to hands-on training with demolitions as soon as they get to the unit. The excitement is contagious, and Marsch believes it contributes to re-enlistments because combat engineers want to handle demo as much as possible.
"This training means a lot to me," said Spc. Hunter Goodall, 12B, assault breacher vehicle (ABV) driver. "Since graduating from the basic course, I've just been on the ABV so getting to do demo work and learning how to do it has been a great experience. I learned a new charge today; the concrete charge and I feel more confident."
The "Roughriders" took full advantage of training in the field and conducted some additional training in river reconnaissance.
"It makes 1st Cav so much more lethal, said Marsch. We have engineer assets that can move and flatten the area and have opened another avenue for our mechanized and infantry forces."
The combat engineers return in the fall to build upon the training learned during the week-long demolition training event.