FORT HOOD, TX -- “Today marks the culmination of engineering assets and vast partnerships spanning all of III Corps and Fort Hood,” said Lt. Col. John Ordonio, 91st Brigade Engineer Battalion “SABER,” during the unveiling of the Fort Hood Caltrop Mega City. “And it is truly a sight to see,” added the SABER Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Ordonio.
The unveiling ceremony culminates months of planning, weeks of 12-hour shifts in the blistering Central Texas sun, the transportation of over 200 hundred structures, some having multiple levels, across various Fort Hood Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) sites, emplacing spider munitions fields and volcano minefields.
“Our SAPPERS, our sustainers really did an excellent job at pulling all of these structures together,” said SABER Operations Officer, Maj. Phillip Denker. “They were out working before the sun came up and long after it went down. With that, we never sustained an injury out here and just...amazing work by all of our Troopers involved,” added Maj. Denker.
The construction of the MOUT site is in preparation for the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team’s “IRONHORSE” field exercise, Pegasus Forge 5.5.
“This is where the IRONHORSE brigade demonstrates and validates not only our readiness but our lethality,” said IRONHORSE Commander Col. Michael Schoenfeldt.
Pegasus Forge 5.5 will serve as the validation training the IRONHORSE Brigade would have received during their planned rotation to the National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin, CA. The IRONHORSE Brigade’s spring rotation to NTC was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Col. Schoenfeldt, attending the unveiling along with the 1st Cavalry Division Commanding General Maj. Gen. Jeffery Broadwater added, “No matter the circumstance or situation we as the Army must deter our adversaries and give comfort to our allies.”
The MOUT site, now boasting over 300 hundred structures rivaling that of NTC, allows IRONHORSE to train in an entirely new and complex environment, otherwise not found on Fort Hood.
“We’ve created an outstanding training opportunity for our IRONHORSE Brigade. We missed an opportunity with NTC due to COVID...NTC has a Brigade level objective that regular installations don’t,” said Maj. Denker. “The facility at NTC is world-class and we wanted to bring that here to Fort Hood and honestly I feel we’ve done just that.”
During the ceremony, the SABER Battalion made sure to emphasize that without the help of their fellow engineers from the 62nd Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade the construction of this Mega City would not have been possible.
“We were supported really well by the SAPPERS at the 36th Engineer Brigade,” said Lt. Col. Ordonio. “Honestly, their expertise and help, at times, provided a guiding hand for our SAPPERS here, allowing for this MOUT site to really take shape, so without their support I really do not believe that we could’ve pulled this off,” Ordonio added.
The ceremony was not without flourish. Guests were entertained with a parade featuring the vehicles used during the setup of the Mega City, remarks from the Mega City Mayor, played by Maj. Denker, and concluded with the opposition force (OPFOR) 411th Military Police Company, replacing the City’s flag and capturing a SABER Trooper.
“We’re going to prevent them from taking over this city now that we’ve captured it and one of their Soldiers,” said Military Police Officer, Sgt.Taurus Hardwict. Sgt. Hardwict, with 411th MP Co,. added “this means a lot, we never really work with the combat teams so for them to ask us to come out and help them train feels good but also helps us perfect our combat maneuvering skills.”
The amount of effort that went into the construction of the Caltrop Mega City is undeniable and the impact every SABER Trooper and Soldier that helped bring this city to life is enough to make any military Commander proud.