FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — For trainees learning the skills they will need to perform their military occupational specialty, getting to see how their job fits into the larger Army picture is usually reserved for a later time, such as their first duty assignment or deployment.
During their culminating combat engineer field-training exercise, or CEFTX, this week, the combat engineer and bridge crewman trainees of Company B, 35th Engineer Battalion, were given the chance to see how military police detention and corrections operations factor into one of their most important combat roles — breaching enemy fortifications.
According to Capt. Taylor Huddlestun, Bravo Company commander, instructors from Charlie Company, 701st Military Police Battalion, taught a class Wednesday at Training Area 250 on what’s called point-of-contact transfer of a high-value target, or HVT — basically, securing individuals suspected of holding vital intelligence.
Huddlestun, who previously commanded an MP company here and played the HVT in the scenario, said his goal in reaching out to the MPs for this added instruction was to make the event more informational by showing how the combat engineer fits into the larger, joint operation.
“Everywhere we go, we work with MPs — MPs work with everyone, but engineers and MPs work really closely,” he said. “We need to have some understanding of what each other does. Fortunately, our brigade commander was willing to give us this chance to do a little bit of joint training. It is our hope that it resonates with the graduates and continues the bond between branches.”
One of the MP instructors for the 30-minute lesson was Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Grajeda, who called this a “fantastic opportunity” to help show some of the Army’s newest combat engineers and bridge crewmen how the 31E military occupational specialty — called corrections/detention specialists — factors into their job.
“It gives these Soldiers a more holistic picture of what they would possibly encounter on the battlefield,” Grajeda said. “This helps us establish for them what our capabilities are and how we fit into a unit.”
Pfc. Nathan Vasquez, a National Guard combat engineer trainee from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, volunteered to help demonstrate for the rest of the company some of what the MPs taught in the lesson. He said the additional training was very interesting and helpful.
“I’m glad we got to see some of what another [military occupational specialty] does,” he said. “I enjoyed learning about how different [military occupational specialties] connect to secure a target.”
In addition to the MP training on Wednesday, Bravo Company also conducted a water crossing via Zodiac boats and poncho rafts — training not normally provided at this level of instruction.
“Typically, during CEFTX, we give the bridge crews a chance to take people across (the lake), but we wanted to expand on that and try to make it a more fulfilling event,” Huddlestun said. “The poncho rafting is a skill they learn in Sapper School. That’s the key — these guys are engineers, and we want to encourage them as they progress in their careers to come back and try to go through Sapper School if they feel like they’re ready. Introducing a basic concept that they learn in Sapper School to them now might get them a little more excited to come back, and it’s really just additional training; it’s expanding on their engineer skills and giving them another tool for their toolbox.”