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FTX - 19th Engineer Battalion conducts field training exercise

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By 1ST LT. ELLA PETERSON

Soldiers from 19th Engineer Battalion completed a biannual field training exercise on Fort Knox Sept. 5-15 that focused on issues that surround an emergency deployment.

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Planning for the exercise began immediately following the previous battalion exercise in March. The focus was to make the September training as realistic as possible.

To that end, the battalion staff provided an in-depth scenario for the exercise, an effort that was assisted by a staff exercise at Camp Carlson on post in July.
In preparation for the battalion exercise, each company held its own field training exercise throughout July and August to make sure units were ready.

As the culminating event, the battalion exercise was treated as an actual deployment in order to establish a baseline knowledge for the time, manpower, and resources required to push a full company fleet as a deployment package. The exercise began with an early wakeup call Sept. 5 to all the Soldiers in the battalion, simulating a deployment notification.

Throughout the first week, the battalion worked to conduct for 42nd Clearance Company an emergency deployment readiness exercise, typically known as an EDRE. Leaders had them perform motor pool operations, load their vehicles at the railhead for shipment, and ensure all medical and financial records were up to date. Part of the battalion’s success involved advance planning with installation support agencies including the Logistics Readiness Center, installation transportation office as well as Soldier readiness processing at Rockenbach Hall.

During the second week, more than 350 Soldiers from the battalion traveled to Atcher Drop Zone to set up a forward operating base. Headquarters and Headquarters Company provided mission command to the other units in the battalion, while Forward Support Company provided maintenance and logistics. Soldiers from FSC set up a field kitchen not only to practice their own training objectives but also to ensure Soldiers received two hot meals a day.

The 42nd provided mobility support to the other companies to ensure safe passage, clear from any improvised explosive devices and other obstacles emplaced
by the enemy. Their heavy equipment operators also helped
build fighting positions for FOB defense.

“It was a good training opportunity for us to get our feet wet on route clearance,” said Pvt. Nicholas Bucar.

The battalion’s main focus during the second week consisted of breaching a series of obstacles set up on Steeles Range.

A 502nd Multirole Bridging Company platoon breached the first of these obstacles by emplacing a dry support bridge over a crater obstacle. The 541st Engineer Company (Sapper) followed, breaching the second and third obstacles with a mine clearing line charge and Bangalore torpedoes.

A platoon from 15th Engineer Company served as the opposing forces throughout the exercise, adding realism to the training scenarios and testing the unit’s tactics, techniques and procedures.

“We know our own TTPs, so we have to plan against (them),” said one OPFOR Soldier.

The weather added an additional layer of realism, turning inclement during the second week due to the residual effects of Hurricane Irma and forcing the battalion to adapt to the unfavorable conditions.

As the dust settled over the training exercise Sept. 15, battalion leaders said they were satisfied with the results. n