News: Sappers climb to new heights
Story by: Spc. William McGuigan
3rd BSTB, 3rd AAB, 1st Cav. Div.
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq – Combat engineers serve as the Army’s premiere breaching force; the tip of the spear. When confronted with a daunting obstacle that hinders their mobility, maneuver commanders rely on their sappers to perform adaptively in the urgency of combat and lead their force through the objective. As the only combat engineer company within 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, the soldiers of Company C uphold that standard daily. They neutralize improvised explosive devices while on patrol, but on Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq they overcame a new obstacle of their own.
Under the leadership of Sgt. Chad Keith, the company’s intelligence and support team noncommissioned officer in charge and an architecture major at Texas A&M University, a plan was developed to construct a 20-foot, portable steel rope tower. With the support of Pvt. David Poirier, a welder and mechanic assigned to Company C, and the Allied Trades Section, materials were procured and cut to strict specifications. After two weeks of manufacturing and welding, the tower’s frame was complete and ready for assembly. Spc. Doxton Johnson led a small team of soldiers from the company and assisted in the raising of the tower, which was proudly anchored next to the company’s command post. Thanks to the generous donations of several families of unit members, the company was able to raise enough money to purchase new ropes for the tower, which now allows two climbers to negotiate the obstacle at once.
To date, the new sapper tower has seen more than 150 climbs, each instilling confidence and physical toughness in the soldiers of Charlie Company. Designed to replicate the rope tower at the Sapper Leader Course, it has also become an invaluable training tool for those soldiers who aspire to earn the Sapper Tab. At the end of August, the company as a whole decided on a new standard that would be set forth for the remainder of the deployment: before each mission, every soldier on that patrol will climb the tower – an affirmation that sappers will overcome any obstacle.