Soldiers take on rare training mission

Fort Bliss
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 7:46pm

The 1st Battalion, 361st Engineer Regiment, Task Force Redhawk, 5th Armored Brigade, recently received a unique opportunity to train two companies from an active-duty engineer battalion.

TF Redhawk, which usually trains Reserve or National Guard units on the fundamentals of counter-improvised explosive device techniques, trained Soldiers of the 570th Engineer Company and 571st Engineer Company, 14th Engineer Battalion, stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

The unit was originally expected to train at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La., but found out that due to the large number of units training there, they would have less access to essential, training resources. 

“At McGregor Range, there wasn’t a unit scheduled to go through during the time period, the two companies were going … through JROTC, so we just started asking a bunch of questions as to whether or not they could support us and the answer was yes,” said Lt. Col. Douglas E. Brown, commander of the 14th Eng. Bn. “The end result was really good and we are really happy about the fact that we came down here.”

Throughout their time at McGregor Range, the 570th and 571st Engineer Companies, sharpened their skills on the fundamentals of route clearance, performed situational training exercises, executed a culminating training event and spent their last two days with TF Redhawk conducting mounted and dismounted combat patrol live-fire exercises.

During the dismounted portion of the combat patrol live-fire exercise, select Soldiers used metal detectors to search for possible IEDs, while the remainder of the dismounted patrol maintained situational awareness, looking for anything which might indicate a possible IED.

“The experience was very cool, but there was a lot of brass on the ground so I could easily get the wrong signal,” said Pvt. Kwame Presley, a combat engineer originally from Saginaw, Mich. and assigned to 2nd Platoon, 570th Sapper Company, 14th Engineer Battalion. “It was a very big challenge because I have to listen for the correct sounds and I’m still new at it.”

If anything suspicious was found, the unit utilized their route clearance equipment such as a robot or their mine protected vehicle to investigate. The unit was also expected to react to a casualty and perform medical evacuation procedures during the dismounted patrol.

After two days of training with TF Redhawk, both companies were validated for their upcoming deployment.

“Task Force Redhawk was very helpful in altering their training plan from what they normally do to fit our training requirements, and we definitely appreciated that,” said Brown. 

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