• December 19, 2014

Engineers role redefined in changing Army

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Posted: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 4:30 am

Army engineers are entering a new era by making their way into specialized battalions in an effort to better support brigade combat teams in the future.

The transition kicked off in October, transforming brigade special troops battalions across the Army into brigade engineer battalions.

The 91st “Saber” Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division recently completed its transition, making the unit a topic of discussion during Engineer Week, held March 31 to April 3 at Fort Hood.

Capt. Anthony Daniels, commander of Company A of the 91st, said the transition builds engineer assets in preparation for more conventional warfare.

Before the change, the battalion was the 1st “Centurion” Brigade Special Troops Battalion and contained only one company of engineers. Now it is primarily composed of engineers.

Daniels said he thinks Ironhorse would be ill-equipped to face a conventional army with only one engineer company to support the brigade.

During Engineer Week, the unit displayed equipment, including its new Assault Breacher Vehicle.

“With new equipment comes changes (and) … a lot of learning,” said Sgt. 1st Class Bobby Lawson, the noncommissioned officer in charge of Ironhorse’s engineer section. “But most of all with a new piece of equipment it entails our survivability on the battlefield.”

The ABV allows obstacles to be pushed out of the way during breach missions, can withstand several mine blasts and is equipped with explosives to clear lanes of travel.

The 91st has been training on the vehicle for months and put it into action during the brigade’s recent rotation to the National Training Center. The unit will be getting the new M104 Wolverine Heavy Assault Bridge to enhance current gap crossing capabilities.

Despite changes in roles, units, and equipment, combat engineers haven’t strayed from their three key tasks: mobility, countermobility and survivability.

By providing unmanned aerial vehicle surveillance, digging fighting positions, clearing routes, breaching obstacles, building protective burms, and providing communication support, the battalion supported the brigade’s maneuver units during a recent rotation to the National Training Center.

“At NTC, the BEB did excellent,” said Lawson, who worked closely with Saber at NTC. “Being in that new role just (starting) up, there were a lot of things that had to be worked out, which they got through.”

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