Collaborative efforts help restore training land

By CourtesyFebruary 24, 2023

FORT BRAGG, N.C. – As the training requirement and intensity picks up, the need to maintain and reconfigure training land to meet new capabilities while maximizing the availability of the training land becomes critical.

In a collaborative effort to meet this challenge, the Integrated Training Area Management and Range Control Office formed a partnership with the 10th Marine Regiment Engineers stationed out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to restore training land for maneuver and artillery fire.

Collaborative efforts help restore training land
The Integrated Training Area Management and Range Control Office along with the 10th Marine Regiment Engineers stationed out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, stand together with their equipment Feb. 7. The Integrated Training Area Management and Range Control Office formed a partnership with the 10th Marine Regiment Engineers stationed out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to restore training land for maneuver and artillery fire. (U.S. Army photo by Darin Burns, Fort Bragg ITAM Office) (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Land Rehabilitation and Maintenance section, part of ITAM, is made up of a nine-man crew of contracted heavy equipment operators who employ off road dump trucks, front end loaders, bulldozers, skid steers, and agricultural tractors with pull behind pans.

The 10th Marine Engineers with their manpower of a platoon of twenty- two Marines and a Navy Corpsman complimented the LRAM team with skid steers, rubber-tired articulating tractors called TRAMs, and bulldozers. The combined manpower with equipment capability essentially doubled the work effort and expedited the work that had been planned while maximizing the budget.

The combined team began projects to rehabilitate artillery firing positions and to construct maneuver trails that ran from Jan. 17 to Feb. 11. Some of the artillery firing positions, which are scattered throughout the training areas, had progressively shrunk in size from the encroachment of mature pines and hardwoods along what was the historical boundary.

Brian Williams, the range training land assessment program manager for ITAM, who has the responsibility of inventorying and assessing the training environment, took a hard look at the artillery firing positions. His assessment and recommendations provided LRAM and the Marines a way ahead to develop a course of action.

Williams’ assessment found that on some of the artillery firing positions, the full capability and safety of the artillery position had been degraded interfering with the ability to establish a clear line of sight or what artillerymen refer to as sight to crest. To remove the encroachment, the Marines employed bulldozers and chainsaws.

While the Marines worked, the LRAM team ran a skid steer with a shredder attachment mechanically removing the smaller trees. By the end of the month, several artillery firing positions were opened to their original fully mission capable configuration.

According to Williams, ’’As I assess artillery firing positions, one of the things I consider is facility usage and determine why certain sites are used more than others. Deployments have slowed down, new ranges are being built, and we have more troops in the training areas than we’ve had in 20 years; every acre is at a premium, from both training and environmental perspectives. The 10th Marines truly act as a force multiplier for LRAM, executing what was originally scheduled for either late FY23 or early FY24 work. The benefits of their efforts will enhance overall maneuverability and facility usage, positively impacting the mission readiness of the installation.”

The 10th Marine Regiment Engineers stationed out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, clear debris impacting artillery firing positions, Feb. 22. The Integrated Training Area Management and Range Control Office formed a partnership with the 10th Marine Regiment Engineers stationed out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to restore training land for maneuver and artillery fire. (U.S. Army photo by Darin Burns, Fort Bragg ITAM Office)
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The 10th Marine Regiment Engineers stationed out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, clear debris impacting artillery firing positions, Feb. 22. The Integrated Training Area Management and Range Control Office formed a partnership with the 10th Marine Regiment Engineers stationed out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to restore training land for maneuver and artillery fire. (U.S. Army photo by Darin Burns, Fort Bragg ITAM Office) (Photo Credit: (U.S. Army photo by Darin Burns, Fort Bragg ITAM Office)) VIEW ORIGINAL
Collaborative efforts help restore training land
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The 10th Marine Regiment Engineers stationed out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, clear debris impacting artillery firing positions, Feb. 22. The Integrated Training Area Management and Range Control Office formed a partnership with the 10th Marine Regiment Engineers stationed out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to restore training land for maneuver and artillery fire. (U.S. Army photo by Darin Burns, Fort Bragg ITAM Office) (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

The maneuver trail construction, which was occurring simultaneously with the work on the artillery firing positions, was needed to provide trainers two to three avenues of mounted maneuver for Force-on-Force exercises between existing infrastructure and training facilities.

The trails would also provide a stable base from which to maneuver off the trail and across the landscape. The concept is to maximize usage of the training areas to allow trainers the ability to train on mission essential tasks.

In addition to artillery firing position work, LRAM and the Marines rose to the challenge of re-configuring the firebreaks into maneuver trails and make them a more useful training asset.

The existing firebreak system was adopted during the 1970s as a means for fire control and consists of nine hundred and twenty-five miles of firebreaks. The grid was laid out in an East-West orientation, every two tenths of a mile, without regard to topography or the wetlands it crossed.

Over the years through routine firebreak maintenance, the surface of the firebreaks has been repetitively bladed below ground creating obstacles and potential roll-over hazards for vehicles trying to leave the firebreak and into the adjacent training areas.

With these challenges in mind, the team focused their efforts on a two-mile segment of trail that connected artillery firing positions, drop zones, landing zones, and key training areas.

The teams backfilled the deeply cut areas with loose soil by borrowing the soil from the adjacent drop zone and were able to build the trail up to ground level. After the soil was leveled, the team applied an 8-12 inch lift of compacted crush and run for stabilization.

By months end, the team had created two miles of hardened trail between Sicily and Normandy Drop Zone. The success of this project required the full equipment and manpower capability of both teams.

In the words of Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Bridger, the 10th Marine Regiment Engineer Officer in charge, “LRAM and the Marines were able to seamlessly integrate under the support of ITAM and the range control office to flawlessly accomplish essential tasks forecasted to pay dividends to training units at the installation for years to come. The flexibility, professionalism, and support throughout the duration of our time aboard Fort Bragg proved to save valuable time and funds, forever being a staple in the way we train.”

The Integrated Training Area Management and Range Control Office along with the 10th Marine Regiment Engineers stationed out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, work together to improve the firebreak, Feb. 24. The Integrated Training Area Management and Range Control Office formed a partnership with the 10th Marine Regiment Engineers stationed out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to restore training land for maneuver and artillery fire. (U.S. Army photo by Darin Burns, Fort Bragg ITAM Office)
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Integrated Training Area Management and Range Control Office along with the 10th Marine Regiment Engineers stationed out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, work together to improve the firebreak, Feb. 24. The Integrated Training Area Management and Range Control Office formed a partnership with the 10th Marine Regiment Engineers stationed out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to restore training land for maneuver and artillery fire. (U.S. Army photo by Darin Burns, Fort Bragg ITAM Office) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Collaborative efforts help restore training land
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Integrated Training Area Management and Range Control Office along with the 10th Marine Regiment Engineers stationed out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, work together to improve the firebreak, Feb. 14. The Integrated Training Area Management and Range Control Office formed a partnership with the 10th Marine Regiment Engineers stationed out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to restore training land for maneuver and artillery fire. (U.S. Army photo by Darin Burns, Fort Bragg ITAM Office) (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

Story by Darin Burns, Fort Bragg Integrated Training Area Management Office integrated training area management coordinator.