News: Engineers improvise charges at YTC demo range
Story by Spc. Kimberly Hackbarth
YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. – If MacGyver joined the Army, he’d fit right in with the combat engineers.
Empty food cans from the field kitchen, rocks from the ground, pickets used for building fences and many, many bricks of C4 were among the ingredients soldiers 38th Engineer Company used to craft improvised charges during a field expedient demolitions range Oct. 15 here.
“This range is pretty significant and important because it teaches the soldiers how to construct expedient charges that are necessary when minimum resources are at our availability,” said Sgt. 1st Class Tymande Burton, the platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon, 38th Eng. Company.
During the range, the engineers focused on four types of charges: Bangalore, timber-cutting, water impulse, and grape shot.
First, the platoons used the improvised Bangalore torpedoes to blast through a concertina wire fence.
The next obstacle they faced were tree stumps blocking the way, so the engineers strapped timber-cutting charges to the stumps and blew them to smithereens.
When a steel door challenged their ability to pass, the soldiers attached C4 and expired intravenous bags of saline to the top of the door to create directional breaching charges - known as water impulse charges - and watched them explode.
Finally, the platoons emplaced grape shot to destroy pop up target enemies hiding behind the steel doors.
“Based off of this field exercise, with the brigade being (in) a defensive focus, we figured grape shot would be good to include into this because you can use it inside your defensive posture,” said Burton, from Century, Fla. “In the event that you don’t have claymore mines to reinforce your assembly area, you can easily construct a grape shot with basically a can, shrapnel components, and C4.”
Compared to the route clearance missions during their last deployment to Iraq with 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, the engineers felt more at home being in control of when the explosions take place.
However, soldiers like Sgt. Rayvon Battle Jr., accept the contrast of responsibilities in their job.
“It’s a balance of our job,” said Battle, a Rocky Mountain, N.C., native. “With route clearance, we … got to get movement for things and people to go places. Another part of our job is demolitions which we don’t get to do a lot.”
As the brigade transitions back into full spectrum operations, the engineers have the opportunity to fulfill all of the expected tasks of their profession, including demolitions.
By the end of the range, the soldiers all had a better understanding of building their own charges and the impact of the explosions they cause.
With that knowledge, if they’re ever in a situation where they have limited supplies, but need to eliminate an obstacle, they know what to do.
“When your brigade or higher echelon gives you a mission and you don’t have the available resources to conduct that mission, you don’t tell your brigade you can’t do it,” said Burton. “You find a way, some way, somehow, to get the mission done with minimal resources.”