ORZYSZ, Poland — U.S. Army engineers from the 3rd Infantry Division put their heavy machinery capabilities to work supporting a local organization’s needs near Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, Nov. 1, 2023.
U.S. Army horizontal construction engineers with 9th Brigade Engineer Battalion (9th BEB), 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, serving as part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Poland, provided their expertise and heavy machinery to Klub Strzelecki Squadu Inicjatyw (Initiative Squad Shooting Club), a local organization dedicated to teaching and demonstrating weapons fundamentals to Polish community members.
The shooting club’s mission is to support local students, residents, and community members of Orzysz with proper firearms training and shooting. According to Krzysztof Roszko, head of the Klub Strzelecki Squadu Inicjatyw, the local and national governments put a high priority on ensuring Polish citizens know how to handle firearms.
The 3rd Infantry Division horizontal construction engineers helped revitalize the organization’s shooting range outside of Orzysz. The area was flattened and graded in order to remove dirt that would obstruct shooters on the 200-meter range. The engineers also cleared another nearby range, which the club plans to use for close-quarters shooting.
The shooting club had initially reached out to Polish military units in the area for help, because the organization did not have the capabilities and equipment to handle the task. The Polish military — with the help of Polish interpreters — then asked the 9th BEB if they’d have the capabilities to carry out the request, according to Staff Sgt. Reid Foster, a horizontal construction engineer squad leader with the unit.
Sgt. Darby Mitchell, a horizontal construction engineer team leader with 9th BEB and director of the project, saw the operation as an opportunity for her newer Soldiers to get real-world experience working behind the wheel of their heavy machinery while simultaneously assisting the local community.
“What we’re trying to do is get everyone well-rounded with the [heavy machinery] equipment for stuff like this where it’s a deliberate project,” Mitchell said. “We want to make sure that these guys can be precise and slow it down a little bit to get the job done.”
Pfc. Andrew Judd, a horizontal construction engineer heavy machinery operator with 9th BEB, welcomed the opportunity.
“I’m really happy to be out here doing something nice for myself, as I don’t get a whole lot of time to operate, but when I do, I try to take advantage of it every time,” Judd said. “It’s nice to get out here to get some practice in and do some strategic blade work.”
The shooting club hoped to finish the project before Polish Independence Day Nov. 11, after which the club plans to hold a local shooting competition to celebrate the occasion Nov. 12, Mitchell said.
Judd said the project provided a good opportunity to train on key engineer tasks while also benefiting the community.
“The focus for all of us [for the time] that we’re here is to build that camaraderieship, the rapport with not only the other NATO countries’ soldiers, but with the community and civilians as well,” he said.
Dawid Brzozowski, a shooting club member, said he was very thankful for the Soldiers’ work at the shooting range, as the organization wouldn’t have otherwise been able to complete the mission without the unit’s equipment and expertise.
“They’re very nice people and very professional,” Brzozowski said of the U.S. Soldiers. “I’m very impressed with their professional job.”
Mitchell said that the project also benefited the unit from top to bottom, as the project entailed Soldiers getting experience on the equipment, tasking the organization, planning the operation, and executing the mission.
She added that it was gratifying to put the unit’s military skills to work to help the surrounding community that hosts them during their time in Poland.
The 3rd Infantry Division’s mission in Europe is to engage in multinational training and exercises across the continent, working alongside NATO allies and regional security partners to provide combat-credible forces to V Corps, America’s forward deployed corps in Europe.