Bright and early at 5 a.m. on a cool morning, April 18, Soldiers were called to their company. They were told to arrive promptly in uniform, with their gear fully packed, ready and set to go.
Once they arrived the Soldiers would endure a road march followed by hours of intense training out in the back 40 of Fort Campbell.
The Soldiers of 2nd Platoon, A Company, 39th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, trained to improve their tactical fitness, countermobility and survivability.
Training such as this is conducted weekly to further ensure that 39th BEB’s combat engineers remain efficient in their infantry skills.
“Today we started with a four-mile ruck march with full kit and a 30-pound ruck,” said 2nd Lt. Garrett Bridenbaugh, engineer officer and platoon leader in A Co., 39th BEB, 2nd BCT. “We then proceeded out to the training site to build countermobility obstacles. Today we focused on the triple-strand concertina wire obstacle and the 11-row obstacle, we also went through survivability positions and fox holes.”
Concertina wire is a type of razor wire that is formed into large coils that can be expanded like a concertina or accordion.
The triple-strand concertina wire obstacle, constructed by combat engineers, consists of two rolls of concertina wire side-by-side on the bottom with one roll of wire on top, like a pyramid, secured with additional wire to prevent crushing. It is designed to slow or stop personnel and small-wheeled vehicles.
The 11-row obstacle consists of 11 rows of concertina wire laid parallel to each other on the ground and are anchored with pickets. This is used to hold back and slow down incoming enemy personnel and even tanks.
“We are enablers of the infantry,” Bridenbaugh said. “We set up the defensive area for them as well as fight alongside them. The training we did today is significantly important because the platoon needs to understand their roles as well as everyone else’s role from the lowest to the highest-ranking Soldier. We also did this training to beat the standard. The engineer planning factors and tools doctrine gives us a time standard on how quickly the obstacles are to be set up, but we aim to be faster and exceed the standard. The faster we can build these obstacles, the better advantage we have for defense.”
A combat engineer is a Soldier who performs a variety of different demolition and constructional tasks while under combat conditions. Their mission is to assist other military personnel when taking on rough terrain in combat. They provide expertise in areas such as mobility, countermobility, survivability and general engineering.
As companies continue to grow in strength with personnel, for some of the newest Soldiers this was their first hands-on training experience with 39th BEB after advanced individual training.
“Today went well,” said Pvt. Tristan Cooper, combat engineer with A Co., 39th BEB, 2nd BCT. “We worked together as a team and it got done faster than I’ve ever seen it competed in [advanced individual training]. I got hands-on learning for the triple-strand, 11 row and foxholes. It was a good day.”
It is important to conduct weekly and monthly hands-on training during which Soldiers execute their skills, which increases information retention while setting the standard.
“The importance of this is to get the Sapper squad to become more efficient in constructing the obstacles and understand the standards,” said Sgt. Jose Acosta, combat engineer and squad leader, A Co., 39th BEB, 2nd BCT. “We only teach the standard, right? Therefore, we expect them to be more effective in their work.”
The Soldiers of 39th BEB learned how to construct some of the most effective countermobility defense obstacles as well as how to work as a cohesive unit.
“The more training we are able to do like this, the closer our platoon becomes,” Bridenbaugh said. “The more esprit de corps we have the more comradery we can build. The Soldiers love to come out and train. We try and get as much training out of it as we possibly can and just try to have fun while doing as much work as possible.”