20th Engineer Battalion makes welcome transition from trainer to trainee
1st Lt. Jered Stokes, 20th Eng. Bn.In the midst of record-breaking Texas heat, with temperatures rising into the triple digits, the 20th Engineer Battalion begins a rigorous schedule of individual and collective pre-deployment training.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
The Lumberjack Battalion has been conducting continuous training since the beginning of the new fiscal year, though this is the first time that the Soldiers of the 20th will be part of the training audience.
Since October, the 20th has been consumed by planning and executing the training needed to deploy other units, but will now focus on training its own personnel as the battalion headquarters and forward support company prepare to deploy this fall.
The 584th Mobility Augmentation Company deployed in February, after participating in a Mission Readiness Exercise in November that was planned and conducted by members of the 20th. The 510th Clearance Company deployed in April after engaging in a similar event in January that was run
by the 20th.
“The training was tricky, but we pulled it off,” said Cpt. Jacob Watson, the assistant S-3 for the 20th Eng. Bn. and primary planner for the 584th and 510th training events. “We had a wealth of knowledge from people who had recently deployed, and we used that to our greatest advantage.”
The Lumberjack Battalion was called upon again in March to plan and train yet another unit for deployment. This time it was the 62nd Engineer Battalion, a sister unit under the 36th Engineer Brigade. The 20th Eng. Bn. responded by performing above maximum capacity. The staff coordinated the necessary materials and planned the event, all within a narrow time budget. During the training, the 20th acted as an overall event supervisor and had teams designated to each of three training sites.
Now the focus of the battalion’s training calendar has returned to center. With a deployment scheduled this fall, the 20th has started down an extremely crowded path of planning, training and assessing.
The first step in this process is the individual training and certification of basic warrior skills. The Headquarters and Forward Support Companies sent squads of Soldiers to Elam Urban Assault Course to take part in a simulated combat patrol. Each squad loaded radios, conducted weapons breakdown and assembly, moved as a squad under direct fire, treated a casualty and maneuvered through a populated area.
“When you’re part of someone else’s training, you see other people’s mistakes and learn what not to do,” Sgt. Nathan Henry, HHC, 20th Eng. Bn., said. “I’m going to share my knowledge and what I’ve learned, as well as try to get better. I just hope that the people running my training are taking it as seriously as I did.” Next month the 20th Eng. Bn. will take part in another training event to certify the maneuver platoons that will be deploying to Afghanistan this fall. The training will include a combat live-fire exercise, counter-IED lanes that each platoon must negotiate and complete for their assigned missions. The change from trainer to trainee will allow the 20th to finalize its preparation for deployment, as well as take time to engage with Families and friends before their coming separation.