SMARDAN TRAINING AREA, Romania -- A Bradley Fire Support Team Vehicle loaded with combat engineers roared forward to the tangle of razor wire. Covered by the unit's tanks, the Bradley stopped and lowered its armored ramp. The engineer team ran out carrying Bangalore torpedoes, five-foot-long tubes filled with explosives designed to clear obstacles.
The team sprinted forward toward the wire. Two of the engineers took cover as one slung a grapple hook and rope across the field in front of the obstacle to remove any simulated booby traps. Once clear, the team assembled the torpedo sections and pushed it under the wire.
After a quick radio check with headquarters for permission to detonate the explosives, they ignited the time delay fuses. As the fuse burned, the team sprinted back to the cover of the Bradley.
This exercise was how armor, engineers and artillery brought the boom as Soldiers of Charlie Company Team, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division completed a combined arms live fire training exercise at Smardan Training Area, Romania, Aug. 29, 2018. The Soldiers of the battalion are deployed for Atlantic Resolve, an enduring training exercise between NATO and U.S. forces.
Coordinating firepower, indirect fire and engineering demolition required careful planning by leaders and Soldiers. Leaders rehearse over and over what each unit is to do, when and what their job is during the exercise.
"It is controlling a lot of things at once," said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Jesse Nelson, a platoon leader with the team.
Trained and practiced, the Soldiers prepared for the live fire exercise at the range that afternoon. The old saying, "If you can't go around it, go through it, and you can if you have combat engineers," applied to this exercise. The mission for the combat engineers was destroying a concertina razor wire obstacle to allow tanks to exploit the breach and launch a simulated counterattack.
"A combined arms breach is challenging," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Kelvin Swint, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment commander.
The explosion from the exercise tore a huge gap in the wire. The team leader then ran forward to mark the gap for the tanks to safely pass.
It was not a long wait. The whine of the 1,500 horsepower turbines rose as three tanks accelerated toward the gap. They spread out along the range and fired en masse at targets imitating enemy forces.
Several miles away, other Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment fired 155mm shells on order from their self-propelled M109 Paladin howitzers. Inside the 30-foot-long vehicles, the crew loaded the almost 90-pound shell into the howitzer in seconds. Target coordinates were checked and the order to fire given. A crew member pulled on the lanyard and in a flash, the nearly two-foot-long shell was on the way down range.
After the exercise Soldiers and leaders meet to share what they learned during an after action report meant to "maximize the opportunity to be lethal and precise," said Swint.