JOHNSTON, Iowa - Close neighbors from the Missouri Army National Guard stayed at Camp Dodge in June 2022 for a two-week annual training period. Soldiers with the 220th Engineer Construction Company from Festus, Missouri, worked through Troop Labor Projects to help make improvement’s to Iowa’s busiest training post.
They collaborated with the Iowa Army National Guard’s Construction and Facilities Management Office, as well as Iowa’s 831st Engineer Company, to complete the projects. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Kent Davis, Iowa’s chief of Training Site, explained how Troop Labor Projects that use internal and neighboring assets is financially efficient and provides valuable training to troops.
“This saves money and enables the unit doing the work to have validated training on projects,” said Davis. “Pooling from multi-state state resources is a vision of [the Construction and Facilities Management Office] to foster a collaborative effort in strengthening our nation’s National Guard and Reserve readiness from both a training and site management aspect.”
The 220th ECC tackled two horizontal and two vertical construction projects during their training, one of which allowed them to construct a parking lot on post. 1st Lt. Jonathan Huxel, 2nd Platoon leader with the 220th ECC, said the end project will be a 250-foot by 275-foot parking lot with a wide mouth opening to the road. Soldiers used various heavy equipment and job skills to accomplish the task.
Other projects included a trailer transfer point, where Soldiers can rally at before going on missions; a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear building that will be used for the gas chamber; and a shelter for the Iowa Counterdrug Task Force and Iowa Law Enforcement Academy.
Capt. Michael Baker, commander of the 220th ECC, said it was the first time the unit has been able to do this type of training out of state. Until recently, the unit only had horizontal construction slots, so the projects have also given Soldiers who are newly qualified in vertical construction job specialties to get some real-world experience. Some of those new jobs include plumbers, carpenters and electricians.
So far, he has received positive feedback from Soldiers as they complete the projects.
“It allows our Soldiers to see completed projects from start to finish in an environment that lets them concentrate on their military occupational specialty,” said Baker. “What I have heard from Soldiers on this parking lot project is they love that they are able to get on equipment they have not before.”
Using this equipment helps the Soldiers become more familiar with various types of construction operations. It also checks the box for unit training requirements. According to 1st Sgt. Steven Anderson, 80 hours of operation are needed to be licensed on most earth-moving equipment, and hours logged from completing these projects help them meet that requirement.
As the unit began planning for the training in 2021, Baker said they had the opportunity to meet the people they would be working with at Camp Dodge ahead of time and check out equipment they didn’t already have in the unit. The collaboration allowed them to “hit the ground running” and made for a positive real-world experience.
As the 220th ECC’s two weeks neared an end, they gave a good hand-off to Iowa’s 831st EC to finish the last project.
“I could not be more proud of the entire team, we have a nice balance of experienced and green,” said Baker. “Projects like these really help both states.”