FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – More than 100 Soldiers assigned to the 160th Engineer Company of the Delaware Army National Guard performed squad-based reaction training in Pennsylvania July 12.
The company conducted its second annual training in the past six months to prepare for deployment. Soldiers patrolled through Fort Indiantown Gap’s Combined Arms Collective Training Facility, an urban training site, while moving in squad-sized elements. Trainees reacted to direct and indirect fire and Improvised Explosive Devices while patrolling.
“We typically focus more on our construction and engineering-related skills, so we don’t get to do training like this as much,” said Staff Sgt. Kyler Saxon, a squad leader and construction supervisor assigned to the 160th Engineer Company. “We definitely need to work on these types of Soldiering skills more, so it’s good that we’re here doing this training now and shaking the cobwebs off.”
With rehearsal and repetition comes proficiency. The U.S. Army applies the crawl-walk-run approach to training. Saxon said each time he and his Soldiers go through the training lane, they learn more. They’re working toward being able to fluidly patrol as a squad through the lane while appropriately reacting to threats.
“As a squad leader, this is a great refresher for me, my team, and our squad members to make sure we know everything we need to do in order to make it home safely,” said Saxon. “We’re working on identifying our sectors of fire, on being more vocal as we patrol, and on our team and squad communication skills in general.”
According to the company’s full-time staff members, the unit has been functioning at a relatively high operational tempo for some time as it prepares for its deployment.
“This is part of our pre-mobilization deployment training,” said Cpt. David Mears, commander of the 160th Engineer Company. “We’re training at Fort Indiantown Gap because the facilities available here, such as the CACTF, better facilitate the training we need to do.
“We’re rehearsing the Army warrior task and battle drills,” Mears said. “Eventually, we’ll be evaluated on our ability to perform these skills prior to deployment.”
The engineer company boasts vertical and horizontal construction capabilities and can offer a broad range of engineering support to friendly forces.
“We can provide construction and maintenance for aircraft runways or helicopter pads. We can create or modify berms, barriers and bunkers. We can also provide electrical and plumbing support, as well as most any basic maintenance across the board,” Mears said.
Meeting the engineering demands of the U.S. Army isn’t all that the 160th Engineering Company brings to the table. The company also regularly performs overseas deployment training missions, some of which aid non-military organizations and local communities.
“In the past, when we deployed to Poland to build structures to help support the Polish Armed Forces, we also spent time building beehives to aid in supporting the local populace. We actually do quite a lot of work that directly benefits communities, not just other Army elements,” Mears said.
In addition to the training the 160th Engineer Company conducts at the CACTF, it will train on crew-served weapons, grenade launchers, other weapons systems, and additional warrior tasks during the remainder of its annual training at Fort Indiantown Gap.