HOHENFELS, Germany - The 372nd Engineer Company out of Pewaukee, Wisconsin, arrived at Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, ready and able to perform any mission during their annual training in mid-March.
Due to a change in the unit's force structure last year, the 372nd's 3rd Platoon changed from a vertical to a horizontal platoon, allowing them to tackle a diverse set of projects that previously would have been outside the scope of the 372nd's abilities. In an engineer company with only vertical platoons, some of the normal projects that the Soldiers would tackle on an AT would be building, plumbing, electrical and even roofing. However, when the 372nd saw one of its platoons become horizontal, this added several skill sets.
"Originally we were structured as a pure vertical company, having all three platoons being vertical, but we switched our 3rd Platoon with a horizontal platoon," said Capt. Matthew E. Munday, 372nd En. Co. commander. "This allowed us to take on the engagement area lanes on top of the other projects."
The horizontal platoon brought the ability to utilize bulldozers, graders and other heavy equipment to move earth and materials to complete construction projects.
"We pulled 26 pieces of equipment out of the maintenance yard and communication was hard because we were all spread out," said Sgt. 1st Class Kelly M. Davis, platoon sergeant of 3rd Platoon.
3rd Platoon was initially tasked to build four tank fighting positions in the engagement area. However, they quickly found out that it wouldn't be an easy task for them due to rock and unexploded ordnance.
"Our mission was to build four eighty by twenty-one foot tank ditches, but we ended up only getting two accomplished because of UXO," said Kelly.
Every time the platoon found an UXO, they would have to stop work on the site and wait for Explosive Ordnance Disposal to arrive to either remove or detonate it. With all of the delays, the platoon decided to focus on two fighting position and work on two other projects: removing a tank berm and earth-filled defensive barriers.
The Soldiers in the platoon were excited to get the opportunity to work on multiple projects. It gave them the ability to train on various pieces of equipment and gave the leadership a chance to train the less experienced Soldiers on tasks they normally would never get the chance to do.
"A lot of times it ends up being more vertical projects and there isn't a lot of good earth moving, said Kelly. "Everyone said that this was the best AT that they have ever been on."
This AT also gave the entire company the opportunity to work together and better understand the roles each platoon plays within it.
There were several instances where a member of a vertical platoon trained with the horizontal platoon and vice versa. It was this integrated approach that left the leadership feeling that this year's AT was successful at creating both unit readiness and cohesiveness.
"The largest contributing factor has been having the horizontal platoon with us to complete the engagement lanes," said Munday. "Our mission has been a success through and through."