News: Combat engineers ‘React’ with recovery training
Story by Sgt. Jon Soles
FORT MCCOY, Wis. - Combat engineers, from the 483rd Area Clearance Platoon, 389th Engineer Battalion, 372nd Engineer Brigade, 416th Theater Engineer Command and the 464th Area Clearance Platoon, 323nd Engineer Route Clearance Company, 391st Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command, trained at the Regional Emergency All-Climate Training Center (REACT) at Volk Field Air National Guard Base during Warrior Exercise 86-14-02 (WAREX), April 4.
The REACT Center looks like a construction demolition site, with piles of concrete culverts, slabs and debris scattered, in no particular order. The Soldiers used jackhammers and drills to make holes in reinforced concrete. The procedure, known as breaching, is used to remove people or bodies trapped in debris.
“Breaching is good training for combat engineers because it is a big part of our job,” said Sgt. Matthew Bodenhorn, a combat engineer from Joplin, Mo., assigned to the 483rd. “This training is helping us learn how to work with concrete because it works a certain way and falls apart a certain way.”
The training allowed the Soldiers to gain experience with heavy tools and techniques that could be used on a combat deployment, or search and rescue stateside in the event of a natural disaster.
“We’re a route clearance platoon and we have to go in and clear explosive hazards,” said 2nd Lt. Bennett Kelley-Bell, a platoon leader assigned to the 464th Platoon. “This is non-traditional training for us, but if you think about, it fits us perfectly.”
Some of the Soldiers said the training will give them the ability to provide help when they are called to respond, whether it’s service members or civilians.
“Ever since the president issued an executive order that the Army Reserve can help out in national disasters, this kind of training is great for us,” said Pvt. Travis Drennon of Lone Jack, Miss., a combat engineer assigned to the 483rd Area Clearance Platoon. “We are trained to remove obstacles, but we can also use our skills to save lives.”
Combat engineers employ various specialties, such as demolition, fortification or construction, to do their job. The Soldiers in the area clearance platoons can take the training received at the REACT center during WAREX to increase their knowledge and become a more potent force to help Soldiers.
“A combat engineer is a jack of all trades and this training shows another aspect of the engineer field,” said 1st Lt. Adam Minnard of Kansas City, a platoon leader assigned to the 483rd Platoon. “This helps our Soldiers get into the realm of thinking they need to do their jobs more effectively.”
This training is part of WAREX, a large-scale multi-component collective training exercise designed to prepare Army and National Guard units for deployment. It includes nearly 5,000 Soldiers from more than 60 units from 30 states and Puerto Rico.