News: Keeping roads safe: One company’s responsibility in the west
Story by 1st Lt. Laura Beebe
SHINDAND, Afghanistan – The sun hasn’t come up yet to wake up the world, but engineers with the 576th Engineer Company are already moving around, conducting final checks on vehicles, prepping their gear and conducting rehearsals and back-briefs.
The sounds of military vehicles rumble in the open lot as soldiers of 1st Platoon, 576th Engineer Company are getting ready to again leave the gate of the Shindand military base. Over the sounds of the trucks, the platoon leader and platoon sergeant gather everyone together to go over their mission one last time and end by joining hands and saying a prayer over the mission ahead.
This mission is a daily routine for the soldiers huddled together on the brisk morning. Combat engineers throughout Afghanistan are tasked to clear routes of all improvised explosive devices (IED), allowing other units the freedom of maneuver in the area.
The difference for the 576th Engineer Company is the area they cover to ensure this maneuver capability. The “Spartans” are the only combat engineer company operating in Regional Command-West, which covers all of Western Afghanistan.
The imminent threat of IEDs on routes makes the patrol a critical task for continued movement of military units across the area, along Highway 1.
Prior to leaving the base, the platoon stops to test fire their crew served weapons and check all communication equipment. Then they slowly creep along on their way to their destination.
Throughout the mission, all soldiers in the vehicles remain vigilant of their surroundings. They will pick up on any known enemy patterns, identifying indicators, and hazardous areas. Once they suspect a threat, they will interrogate the site to confirm or deny any emplacement.
Combat engineers continue to conduct route clearance operations on all major routes throughout Afghanistan.
As the platoon nears the end of it’s mission, they are greeted by more life as the rest of the country wakes up and goes about their day.
No matter the hours, distance, or time spent on the road, the Soldiers of 576th Engineer Company know that as long as troops need them cleared, they will execute their mission to clear those routes.