News: Engineers Receive Speciality Training at National Training Center
Story by Sgt. Brent Powell
Story by Sgt. Brent Powell
204th Public Affairs Detachment
FORT IRWIN, Calif., - Comprising hundreds of thousands of acres of desolate desert, the National Training Center here offers a prime opportunity for Soldiers to hone their tactical and military specialty skills in a challenging environment.
For nearly 100 combat engineers here the training opportunity means not only sharpening their current skills, but gaining a new Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) as well.
The engineers are here as part of Operation Sand Castle 2009. An annual operation bringing together Army Reserve engineer units from around the United States to train in a desert environment.
This year several of the engineering companies joined together to ensure that their Soldiers not only received the essential tactical training here, but that they were MOS qualified in a new MOS called, "Super Echo."
The new MOS merges the 21E Heavy Construction Equipment Operator and the 21J General Construction Equipment Operator MOS's. Previously Soldiers who were 21E qualified were trained to operate a bulldozer, scoop loader, scraper and a grader. Those who held the 21J MOS were trained on the Hydraulic Excavator (HYEX) and the Small Emplacement Excavator (SEE).
Now the engineers will be qualified on all of the equipment and upon completion of the training will receive the new MOS 21E Construction Equipment Operator or "Super Echo" as it is being called.
"In October of 2008 the Army stated that all Soldiers with the 21J or 21E MOS needed to be qualified in the new 'Super Echo' MOS by September of this year," said 1st Lt. Jennifer L. Barker, platoon leader and officer-in-charge of the new MOS training here. "We started planning for this training during battle assemblies in early spring. We knew we were coming out here for training, and that we had Soldiers that needed to be MOS qualified."
The 244th Engineer Battalion Task Force is conducting the training for Soldiers from five engineer companies and two engineer detachments here.
When Soldiers arrive at the training site, they are given a safety brief on the area and any related safety issues. Then they are broken down into groups where they receive instruction on how to properly conduct Preventative Maintenance Checks (PMCS) on the equipment.
Once the PMCS is completed the instructors introduce the students to the equipment and they begin the hands-on training.
The training is conducted in accordance with Personnel Assessment Sheets, which are used to record demonstrated proficiency on required critical tasks. The sheets track the students' knowledge and monitor performance standards required to function in the consolidated MOS.
In order to be proficient on the machinery, the students are required to perform a wide range of tasks from pre-operation procedures and wearing of proper safety equipment to digging trenches and properly maneuvering the equipment.
The training encompasses a full 12-hours, most of which the students spend familiarizing themselves with the equipment and actually operating the gears, levers and switches needed to become proficient.
"The main focus of the training here is to get the students orientated with the equipment that they have not used before, and to get them MOS qualified," said Barker. "This is a great training opportunity because a lot of units don't have the opportunity to conduct this training at their home stations due to time restraints, equipment availability and available dig sites."
According to Barker another advantage to the training here is the small class size. "The training here is really nice because it's nearly one-on-one training with the students and instructors," she said. "You don't even get that in the basic MOS school environment."
Despite daily temperatures of over 100 degrees, the students seemed to enjoy the training, and according to Barker all who have attended the training thus far have completed the course and will be MOS qualified in the new MOS.
One of the students who spent the day learning how to operate the HYEX was Pfc. Joseph M. Chinelli, a combat engineer from the 770th Engineer Company from Penn Yan, N.Y. "I was a bit jittery at first," he said. "But it's pretty easy once you get the hang of it. It's kind of like playing a video game."
Once the training is complete, the necessary paperwork is filled out and signed off by the battalion commander. The students then send the paperwork up through their chain of command and are awarded the new MOS.
The MOS training began here on July 7 and is scheduled to continue through July 20 with the goal of qualifying nearly 100 Soldiers in the new MOS.
"It's definitely worthwhile training," said Spc. Nathan J. Sturchio, an instructor on the Hydraulic Excavator from the 282nd Engineer Company from Fort Carson, C.O. "When they complete the training here they will at least be familiar enough with the equipment that they can get the job done and accomplish their mission."