News: Engineers practice urban breaching, route clearance
Story by Sgt. Michael Selvage
FORT DRUM,N.Y. -When engineer soldiers see an obstacle in their path, the first thing they consider is how they can get through it rather than over or around it.
Soldiers from 630th Route Clearance Company proved this at Observation Point 6A while conducting urban breaching training and dismounted route clearance operations Aug. 26.
The training started at the ammunition point, where the squads drew explosives, flares and smoke grenades necessary for their mission. After ensuring all ammo is accounted for, squads loaded into route clearance vehicles, consisting of Huskies, Buffalos and Humvees that served as simulated mine-resistant, light-armored vehicles, and headed across the road to the training lane.
Once the route clearance convoy arrived at the lane, vehicles came to a stop as soldiers began the dismounted route clearance portion of the training.
“We dismount and go through the steps of dismounting,” said 2nd Lt. Paxton Haydel, a platoon leader assigned to the 630th RCC, “like doing our five- and 25-meter checks.”
The squad was split into two teams to cover each side of the road. As soon as teams established communication with each other, they began to maneuver through the fields of tall grass, weeds and bushes.
The team on the left side of the road began receiving enemy fire from the front. Their mission was to return fire and call up a 9-line medical evacuation request for a simulated wounded soldier.
The team on the right side of the road also received enemy fire from the front. Instead of training on the same soldier skills as the other team, they assaulted through the attack by making their way through a thick-wooded area while searching for the enemy.
After the team pushed through the woods, they came across a building with a door simulated by a sheet of plywood.
Soldiers moved from the tree line and stacked along the side of the building. The team leader tossed a smoke grenade in front of the building to conceal their movement. While the team pulled security, two soldiers secured a flex linear charge to the door and connected the charges to a detonator. After the soldiers were back around the side of the building, the range noncommissioned officer in charge ensured the charge was applied correctly.
After the range NCO gave the team leader a thumbs up, the charges detonated, splintering a portion of the door.
As soon as they breached the door, a handful of soldiers stormed through and secured the building.
A soldier shot a flare into the air, signaling that they reached the end of their training mission after the building was secured.
The range NCO did a quick after action review with the team and sent them on their way to let the next squad know it was their turn.
“This is a perishable skill,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Mottoshiski, a squad leader assigned to the 630th RCC. “If you don’t train on this you’re not going to remember it. That’s why we are doing this. We try to make this sort of thing muscle memory.”