News: Black Jack Engineers ‘blow the lid’ on training
Story by Spc. Justin A. Naylor
FORT HOOD, Texas— There are a lot of ways to make a hole. You can use a shovel. You can use your hands. You can even get someone else to do it for you. Or, if you’re an Army combat engineer, you can take a little bit louder approach.
As part of demolition training, Soldiers from Company C, 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, blew a hole big enough to hide a tank in during a week-long field exercise in mid-June on Fort Hood, Texas.
While in the field, Soldiers trained on various tasks associated with combat engineer demolitions; including land mines, bandoleers, breaching doors and creating road obstacles.
“These are tasks that every combat engineer is expected to know how to do,” said Sgt. 1st Class Brian Streigle, a Norwich, Conn., native and a platoon sergeant with Company C.
Although the majority of the training is done in the classroom or informally by a platoon sergeant, the field presents engineers with the opportunity to go out and use real explosives to prove that they know what they are doing, explained Streigle.
“Because of the deployments, we haven’t always had time and resources to do a lot of ranges,” he said. “Now is the time to focus and get these guys back to the basics.”
The majority of the Soldiers in this unit returned in late December from a rotation in Iraq, where they often handled tasks like guarding explosive ordinance disposal troopers or conducted road clearing operations.
According to Streigle, during the deployment, the Soldiers didn’t get a lot of opportunities to use these particular skills, so this range gives them a chance to get hands on and retrain.
“When you actually have to hook up these systems … it really reemphasizes things we go over on a regular basis,” he said.
While many of the Soldiers at this range have spent years together, for the newer Soldiers, the range presented an opportunity to learn about the troopers they will be working with.
“This is my first time going to the field with these guys,” said Pvt. John Evans, a Denver, Colo., native and a combat engineer with Company C. “This helps me learn about the people I’m going to be deploying with.”
Because he’s so new, Evans was also given the honor of “pushing the button” and detonating a large crater charge.
“This was my first time blowing up one so big,” he said with a grin. “This is what I joined to do.”
For leaders like Streigle, the range is about more than just training Soldiers on basic skills, it is also about conditioning them.
“I want Soldiers to feel comfortable with the demolition,” he said. “This helps them get over any fear they might have of them.”
When Soldiers actually see the effects that explosives have, it helps them understand their job a lot more, he explained.
While modern combat engineers do a lot more than just blow things up, it is still a key task that they must know how to perform, and thanks to this range, these Soldiers won’t be forgetting how to make a hole anytime soon.