News: Nevada combat engineers go back to basics
Story by Spc. James Pierce
FALLON, Nev. — The 609th Engineer Company has gone back to basic training. In an effort to re-emphasize the importance of entry-level warrior tasks when conducting patrol movements, the unit decided to begin their preparation for an upcoming live fire exercise with the simplest of techniques.
Aligned with the Nevada adjutant General’s priority for readiness training, the engineers conducted various battle drills and lanes for squad movements and suppress, obscure, secure, reduce, and assault (SOSRA) procedures at the Fallon Naval Air Station’s B19 bombing range in order to prepare for training planned in May.
“Our Primary mission is preparing for a live fire exercise for next month,” said Sgt. Kevin Hail, a sapper with the 609th Engineer Company. “This drill, we’re working out the kinks so no one gets hurt in May.”
The unit has added a number of new soldiers since the last time they conducted this type of exercise, so they have had to draw down the intensity to ensure everyone was on the same page.
“We had a similar exercise on a larger scale two years ago,” said Hail. “But with the new leadership and the new soldiers, we had to take a step back.”
More than 50 soldiers with the 609th were on site for the exercise. For some, like Pfc. Zach Rice who is an infantryman slated to attend combat engineer school in May, this is the first time being involved in an exercise of this size.
“I’ve done training like this before, but not on this scale,” Rice said. “We do this so that we can get our mission done with more efficiency and soldiers don’t die on the battlefield.”
Safety is one of the unit’s top training priorities, especially training involving live ammunition. Though there were no live rounds used this exercise, next month, the threat of injury will be all the more real.
“There are safety concerns that we have to consider when we are doing a live fire exercise,” said Sgt. 1st Class Brian Dyer, the Readiness noncommissioned officer for the 609th Engineer Company. “Not only are we doing this in the day, but we’re also doing it at night so we have to be prepared.”