News: 1st Engineers field new equipment
Story by Sgt. Scott Lamberson
FORT RILEY, Kan. - The 1st Engineers Battalion is the first unit in the Army to field two new systems. The Buffalo, a mine protected clearance vehicle and the vehicle mounted mine detection system MK-III Husky. Although these pieces of equipment have been used in deployed environments for sometime, this equipment will be fielded to engineer battalions, which will increase training and familiarity on the equipment prior to future deployments.
“It’s going to save a lot of lives,” said Sgt. Roberto Herrera, a combat engineer with the 1st Engineer Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, in regards to the fielding process that is taking place at the battalion.
The 1st Engineers Battalion is the first unit in the Army to field two new systems. The Buffalo, a mine protected clearance vehicle and the vehicle mounted mine detection system MK-III Husky. Although these pieces of equipment have been in used in deployed environments for sometime, this equipment will be fielded to engineer battalions, which will increase training and familiarity on the equipment prior to future deployments.
“We will have this equipment right here, easily available. When we go to the field, an IED lane, or a live exercise, every platoon in our battalion will have the ability to train with this equipment. This battalion will be combat ready when the time comes for us to deploy,” said Lt. Col. Kirk Gibbs, the commander of the 1st Engineers Battalion.
“It will be great for the units to have this equipment state-side. Now, instead of the soldiers going to a school for training, they will have it at the unit level so they can hone their skills and expertise with the equipment,” said Jason Meade, a new equipment trainer from the Tank-Automotive & Armament Command.
While on the ground at Fort Riley, Kan., Meade and the other trainers from TACOM are tasked with training the soldiers from the battalion on operations of the vehicle, preventative maintenance checks & services and drivers training.
The soldiers of the 1st Engineer Battalion had a unique chance to build the Husky system from the ground up. As the components of the system were removed from shipping containers, soldiers began putting on the wheels of the individual trailers with the assistance of a crane. As Meade and the other trainers from TACOM guided, taught and instructed the soldiers through the assembly process, the equipment began to take shape. Once the assembly process was complete, an awkward looking vehicle resembling a locomotive sat in a once bare section of the motorpool.
Once the System was fully assembled the soldiers began learning about the workings and components of the system. As some soldiers were familiarized with the inside of the vehicle, which resembles an airplanes cockpit, others inventoried parts and learned the use for each component.
Following the assembly and familiarization portion of the training, it was time for drivers training. All the soldiers were given a chance to get behind the wheel and drive this long awkward impressive piece of machinery.
“This is going to be a great opportunity for the soldiers to get a hands-on experience building, using and training with this new equipment,” said Herrera.
As the Husky training was taking place on one side of the motorpool, another group of soldiers were training on the Buffalo, a massive vehicle that looks like a bank vault on wheels. Since there was no need for assembly with this equipment, the soldiers were able to jump right into the operation and driving stage. Prior to taking off on the roads, soldiers were given classes on the operations of the vehicle. They then conducted a PMCS and began the daunting task of driving this massive machine.
“I think its going to save a lot of soldiers lives, you’re going to start seeing more efficient route clearance platoons, you’re going to see the soldiers really hone their skills on the Huskies and Buffalos,” Meade said. “Anything I can do to save soldiers lives, I want to be a part of it, even if that means being away from my home and family for six to eight months training soldiers.”
“This will have a very positive impact in the training level with the soldiers and leaders as well as in this battalion. As we look forward to our next deployment, we will deploy with all of our operators licensed on this equipment and trained very well. We’ll be at a much higher training level going into theater the next time we deploy,” Gibbs said.