KANDAHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Soldiers of the 1433rd Engineer Company, Michigan National Guard, not only conduct route clearance to find and remove improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from the roads, but also fix, repair and improve roads in the area.
The 3rd platoon “Honey Badgers” of the 1433rd Engineer Company is a little different than most Combat Engineer Companies here in Afghanistan. They are actually comprised of two different companies from the Michigan National Guard. The 1432nd Engineer Company from Kingsford, Mich. is primarily construction engineers from the upper peninsula. These soldiers were tasked with getting reclassified as combat engineers and combine with the 1433rd combat engineers from Battle Creek, Mich., to form one large company of combat engineers to help clear routes and make Afghanistan safer.
With a wide variety of personnel and numerous skills, this company has the ability to accomplish missions that others would find quite difficult. First Lt. Andres Hernandez is the platoon leader for the “Honey Badgers” and said “We may be the only route clearance platoon (RCP) in country that not only clears the route, but makes road improvements as we go.”
Third platoon differs from most other RCPs because when a route is determined to have areas that need improvement, (grading, gravel, etc.) they will add road graders to the platoon and fix the problem areas as they go.
Staff Sgt. Ross Solberg said “many of us belong to a horizontal construction platoon back home in the 1432nd. It is nice to be able to use our original job skills to make things better here as well.”
As the temperatures cool here in Afghanistan, the rainy season is not far away. Improving the routes is one way to ensure the routes will still be passable by military and civilian vehicles when heavy rains begin to fall.