BAUMHOLDER, Germany -- U.S. Army paratroopers with the 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade from Vicenza, Italy, executed Exercise Full Tang at Baumholder, Germany from Nov. 13 to Nov. 20, 2019.
The battalion of engineers, signal, military intelligence and headquarters paratroopers came to "The Rock" to take full advantage of Baumholder's training facilities to build readiness by training key individual and collective tasks like small arms marksmanship, demolition training, convoy live fire, squad live fire, and base defense live fire.
"It's a new experience working in this kind of environment, but the training is pretty good," said Sgt. Marcos Nava, a squad Leader with Bravo Company, 54 BEB, 173rd Airborne. "We have several new soldiers that is their first time actually doing the other part of our job, which is the light infantry, light sapper."
"Full Tang is preparing us for our platoon live fire, we got a new set of squad leaders and we're getting evaluated to make sure we're doing everything safe and to have that violence of action when we take over any objective."
This is the first time the 54th BEB utilized the Baumholder training area to conduct squad level training. Each company had different key tasks to focus on. The engineer companies used the Major Training Area to conduct engineer reconnaissance, day and night squad live fire and a demolitions range. The support company ran a convoy live fire and base defense while simultaneously running logistics throughout the Battalion.
Urban operations and NBC training were conducted in the Local Training Area. The signal company tactically emplaced their communication systems. Individual training included familiarization and qualification on weapons systems like the M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System, M320 Grenade Launcher and the .50 caliber machine gun. Some companies even took the initiative to complete annual training in land navigation, 12-mile ruck march and the obstacle course.
"My paratroopers are getting better every day of training," said Capt. Fernando Chavez, company commander, B Co. 54 BEB, 173rd Airborne. "It's a pleasure to see them progress through the exercise and even through the adverse weather."
"This exercise is important because it allows us to incorporate new members of our team that we received post (Combat Training Center) rotation, Saber Junction 19, and allows us to help build the foundation so that we can then support our sister battalions as engineer enablers."
After this, the 54th BEB will conduct platoon level exercises in Croatia, eventually leading to brigade level exercises in the spring.
"This gives us the opportunity to really take a look at the things that we learned at Saber Junction," said Lt. Col. Sean R. Shields, battalion commander, 54th BEB, 173rd Airborne. "Take those lessons learned and apply those lessons in this training event in order to get better, in order to build readiness or even fix some of the issues that we had a few months back."
"It's a unique opportunity to train somewhere else, other than Grafenwöhr, so we took advantage of it and I think we will be coming back for future training events."