Engineers gearing up for Sapper course

| May 7, 2010 | 1 Comment

Daisy Bueno
8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs

2nd Lt. Andrew Cammack, 523rd Engineer Company, 84th Engineer Battalion, conducts a buddy swim on a poncho raft. Sapper candidates received 45 minutes to construct a waterproof poncho raft, get in the proper uniform and then swim 400 meters at Richardson Pool, Schofield Barracks. (Capt. Miguel Lima | 130th Engineer Brigade)SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Life in the rain and mud was the norm during a four-week train-up course for the Army Sapper Leader Course, held at Schofield Barracks and Kahuku’s Training Area on the North Shore, here.

The 34th Sapper Company, 65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, conducted the train-up, which was open to all military occupational specialties. 

Thirty-three Soldiers went through the course, last month, to prepare for the actual 28-day course, which is held at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

“My company took full responsibility of the train-up, which is a condensed version of how the actual Sapper Leader Course conducts their course,” said 1st Sgt. Bryan Otero, 34th Sapper Company. “We put a lot of time and effort into this training and opened it up to all Schofield Barracks’ Soldiers.”

Participating Soldiers went through orientation during the first week, during which they were briefed on the basic scope of the train-up.

They also participated in several extreme physical training events, including 5-mile runs in 40 minutes, a boat carry for three miles, a 12-mile road march, rucksack runs and weightlifting.

The following week, Soldiers focused on demolition calculations and characteristics. They also traveled to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, where they practiced different techniques on a rappel tower to employ at the Sapper Leader Course. 

Other training included mountaineering operations, conducting one-rope bridges and building ascender frames, a field expedient method to lift equipment up and down cliffs.

During the third week, Soldiers focused on air and water operations, setting up drop and helicopter landing zones and taking part in poncho rafting and helocasting.

The fourth week was the patrolling phase, which covered moving techniques, raids, ambushes, reconnaissance, operation orders and troop leading procedures. Soldiers accomplished this phase during a three-day field training exercise — the culmination of the entire train-up.

Sgt. Daniel Vickers, 34th Sapper Company, 65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, applies flexicuffs to Pfc. Brian Conine, 34th Sapper Company, April 23, during a field training exercise in Kahuku’s Training Area at the Sapper Leader Course train-up. (Daisy Bueno | 8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs)“The FTX was probably the best thing we could have prepared them for in Sapper school,” said Capt. Jeremy Conley, commander, 34th Sapper Company. “We hope the constant movement, carrying of heavy weight and sleep deprivation will create superior results as they plan and use critical thinking during the train-up.”

Spc. Michael Glass, A Company,  Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, said that the most challenging part of the course occurred when the leadership mantle switched hands. 

“You have to be able to adjust to other people’s leadership almost immediately since everyone has their own style,” said Glass. “And you have to be able to take on being a leader at a moment’s notice, too.”

But does he feel that he’s ready for the actual course?

“The course proved to me that I still have more studying to do. It’s opened my eyes and shown me that I have to do even more preparing for the school,” said Glass.

This train-up course is the brainchild of 1st Sgt. Bryan Otero, who initiated the program while stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. The program is now an ongoing course that has permanent cadre assigned, all of whom have their own barracks and training areas. 

Under Otero’s stint at Fort Bragg, the graduation rate of Soldiers attending the Sapper Leader Course was an astonishing 90 percent. 

Otero said he hoped to see the same results with the course, here.

“The training was excellent and professional,” said 2nd Lt. Andrew Cammack, 523rd Engineer Company, 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade. “They really wanted to make it as hard and realistic as possible to get us ready for the school.”

The Sapper Leader Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., is designed to train leaders from the squad level to the company level. Training is conducted in a team-building environment that helps participants develop leadership skills, learn specialized engineer techniques, and perform battle drills necessary to succeed in engineer missions. 

The course concludes with an intense nine-day field training exercise that reinforces the use of battle drills and specialized engineer techniques learned throughout the course.

“The best thing they can gain from this train-up is a battle buddy,” said Otero. “They all went through it together here, so at the actual Sapper course, when times get hard and they’re tired and stressed out, they can look to their left and right and there will be someone they know, who’s going through the same thing.”

Category: News, Training

Comments (1)

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  1. an engineer says:

    90%? i doubt that number. none of his soldiers(in 34th) tabbed out. i think maybe 1 outtof the 30 or something actually tabbed and thats being generous because i heard no one did. he made the training so hard and crazy right before SLC that all the guys who went were exahausted before they even made it to FLW. but thats not said in this story. neither is the numerous IG complaints he has(over 5). neither is the number of soldiers (15) under his command that got kicked out of the army for drug use due to his inability to properly ensure the combat readyness and esprit de corps needed to effectivly run a Engineer Company. neither is the number of soldiers(over 30) he felt were not good enough for his company and moved to other units(not in his unit, not his problem). neither is the amount of so called fundraiser money the soldiers gave to him only to see nothing come of it. ask any soldier in 34th, and u will get the real story.

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