By Staff Sgt. Daniel Krogh, 1st Battalion, 361st Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, Division WestNovember 16, 2012
McGREGOR RANGE, N.M. -- Division West's 5th Armored Brigade recently trained the Army Reserve's 402nd Engineer Company on route clearance procedures here before the engineers deploy to Afghanistan.
The unit, out of Des Moines, Iowa, trained on route clearance-specific tasks, giving Soldiers hands-on experience with route clearance equipment and noncommissioned officers the opportunity to assess their Soldiers.
"This training allowed my Soldiers to get much-needed hands-on experience with the equipment we will be using in (Afghanistan)," said Capt. Scott Sinclair, 402nd Engineer Company commander. "Working as a platoon, conducting missions with similar scenarios to what we are expecting to see downrange, allowed leaders to assess their platoons' strengths and weaknesses."
The 5th Armored Brigade presents units with missions and scenarios that will give them the best training value. Observer controller/trainers guide the unit and show them ways to conduct their missions, while also enforcing safety with the Soldiers and equipment.
"Over 70 percent of the unit has no prior deployment experience," said 1st Sgt. Eugene Master, 402nd Engineer Company first sergeant. "This training allowed the Soldiers a chance to work together as a team."
The 402nd Engineer Company Soldiers cleared more than two miles of training lane, giving them an example of the endurance required when conducting missions with full gear.
"I liked how the training aids were complete (improvised explosive devices) with a power source, switch and main charge, as well as an indicator," said Sgt. Travis Gatewood, a platoon team leader with the 402nd.
During the route clearance training, the Soldiers were evaluated on react-to-contact, 9-line medical evacuation and improvised explosive device/unexploded ordinance reports, actions on objective, and interacting with local nationals. Leaders also practiced conducting pre-combat checks and inspections to insure Soldiers had the proper equipment, including extra batteries and sufficient water to last the duration of the mission.
"The lane was well-organized and highly detailed in that it incorporated a wide variety of different IEDs and scenarios," said Spc. Patrick Perkins, 402nd Engineer Company.