Story and photos by Spc. April York
2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Engineers from Company C, 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, blasted their way through a qualification course on demolition range last month.
The March 17 training aimed to certify all individual sappers on Engineer Qualification Tables two, three and four. These tables consist of placing and detonating charges as well as arming and disarming anti-tank mines, said 1st Lt. Christopher Gillespie, Company C executive officer.
The demo range is meant to keep the engineers up to date on their semiannual qualifications, but it is also practical experience preparing them for upcoming field training exercises, Gillespie said.
“This training prepares the Soldiers for full-spectrum operations which includes breaching and demolitions on buildings and bridges,” he stated.
The training allows Soldiers to get hands-on experience and they appreciated the opportunity to get away from the office and classroom training environment and handle the types of explosives they work with when deployed.
“This training prepares us for battle,” said Spc. Brandon Kerr, a heavy equipment operator for Company C. “We can sit in a classroom all day and ‘do death by PowerPoint,’ but when you get out there and you’re actually wiring it up and feel the concussion and the blow back falling over your head as you’re lying in the prone position, that is what really prepares you.”
To put all in perspective Kerr said, “You do not get second chances on the battlefield. You cannot be surprised in a combat environment.”
The Soldiers worked with M15, M19 and M21 anti-tank mines. They were actually arming a live mine that was sitting beneath them and then disarming it, Gillespie said. This helps them become more proficient and builds their confidence.
The Soldiers also worked with claymore mines, cratering charges, shaped charges and Bangalore torpedoes.
“This training helps the Soldiers understand how to clear an improvised explosive device,” Gillespie said. “It’s a unique training element that makes us self-sufficient.”
“We don’t always have to depend on someone else to accomplish the mission,” said 2nd Lt. Christopher Cadieux, Company C platoon leader. “We can do everything from route clearance to pulling our own security.
“Our EODA (explosive ordinance disposal agent) qualified Soldiers can even detonate an in-place small IEDs.”
“Time is what makes us essential to the mission,” Kerr said. “If you call us; we will be there. You don’t have to provide security and you don’t have to wait in a vulnerable position for someone to show up.”