By Staff Sgt. Joy Pariante, 13th Public Affairs DetachmentMay 17, 2008
Soldiers from Fort Bragg's 20th Engineer Brigade (CBT) (ABN) took time May 10 to showcase their capabilities to senior Multi-National Corps - Iraq leadership at their headquarters in Balad.
The Brigade had the opportunity to ask questions of Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commanding general, MNC-I and Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph R. Allen, command sergeant major, MNC-I. Questions included those about ending the war, combating special groups and increasing retention rates in Iraq. Soldiers also got the chance to give the command group a tour of their motor pool and a presentation on their various forms of route clearing equipment.
"It's a way to recognize achievements beyond normal expectations," said Command Sgt. Maj. Robert E. Baer, command sergeant major, 1203th Engineer Battalion. Baer said the Soldiers were hand picked to brief the general and command sergeant major based off of knowledge of their equipment and job performance.
"It's always a privilege to have the MNC-I commander come and recognize deserving Soldiers," said Col. Peter A. De Luca, commander, 20th Engineer Bde. "The fact that some of our units are in transition now made it a good send off for some departing Soldiers who made a big difference in the security situation in Iraq."
Some equipment highlighted included the Husky and Buffalo vehicles. There was also a demonstration of rapid crater repair techniques by the 224th Combat Support Engineers.
"It's nice to see someone at the top wants to learn about something regular E-4 foot Soldiers do," said Spc. Mike Yem, 817th Engineer Separate Company. He briefed Austin and Allen on the RG31 vehicle, which specializes in route clearance patrol safety and IED interrogation.
"It's good for morale," said Spc. Scott Kreft, 817th Engineer Sep. Co. of the commanding general's visit. "Not everyone can say they shook hands with the general."
The command group's visit didn't only benefit the Soldiers, but the 20th Engineer leadership as well. "The best way to understand and communicate is to see and hear in person and look people in the eye," De Luca said. "It's a great opportunity for us to give our point of view on trends, achievements and requirements and to exchange ideas and get guidance and decisions straight from the source with no garbling in transmission."
"This visit is a good platform where any equipment issues can be brought up to a higher level," Baer said.
The 20th Engineer Bde. is responsible for combat, geospatial and general engineering and reconstruction operations in partnership with De Luca said. The 20th Engineers are also responsible for training and assisting the Iraqi Army and provincial engineers in the rebuilding of the infrastructure of Iraq De Luca added.
Some contributions of the 20th Engineer Bde. in Iraq have been the building of 10 major bridges, a countrywide two-thirds reduction of IED attacks, the destruction and capture of IED cells in nine Iraqi provinces and the improvement of numerous roads to reduce IED vulnerability and make them safe for travel, De Luca said.
Although some of the 20th Engineer Bde.'s units are preparing to head home, the rest of the troops still have their heads in the game. "I am awed by their attitude and drive as they do what engineers love to do, solve problems creatively, fix broken, but needed things, build new needed things and always take the fight to our enemies in close combat," De Luca said.