‘Dirt Dogs’ complete JTF-N road mission

| December 9, 2010 | 0 Comments
Spc. Weston Dunn, heavy equipment operator, 2nd Platoon, 561st Eng. Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., 8th TSC, operates a hydraulic excavator placing the Ultra Flex, an articulated concrete mat, for a low-water crossing. Staff Sgt. Albert Vila (right) controls the placement, while Sgt. 1st Class Robert Steese (left) oversees the safety of the operation, both Soldiers are with 2nd Platoon.

Spc. Weston Dunn, heavy equipment operator, 2nd Platoon, 561st Eng. Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., 8th TSC, operates a hydraulic excavator placing the Ultra Flex, an articulated concrete mat, for a low-water crossing. Staff Sgt. Albert Vila (right) controls the placement, while Sgt. 1st Class Robert Steese (left) oversees the safety of the operation, both Soldiers are with 2nd Platoon.

Story and Photo by 1st Lt. Christopher Lynch, 561st Engineer Company, 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command

EL PASO, Texas — Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, “Dirt Dogs,” 561st Engineer Company, 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, battled the elements and terrain to complete their Joint Task Force-North road mission to support U.S. Border Patrol, El Paso Sector, Nov. 19.

The Dirt Dogs Soldiers started their “19 Canyon” road project, Oct. 12. With much of the unforgiving land being impassable, the Dirt Dogs’ mission was geared toward providing the U.S. Border Patrol with better access to patrol the El Paso Sector.

The road project, coordinated by JTF-N at Fort Bliss, Texas, is designed to improve the mobility and safety of border patrol agents responding to suspected illegal activities along the Mexican and U.S. border.

“This was a good opportunity for the leadership to evaluate junior Soldiers’ skills on the equipment,” said Spc. Eric Davidson, heavy equipment operator, 561st Eng. Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde. “This is hard to do in Hawaii (because of) the minimal engineer training areas on the island.

“This experience gave the platoon a chance to build squad and platoon cohesion,” he said.

Engineer Soldiers laid the groundwork during the first of three phases to construct a 3.8-mile road for the U.S. Border Patrol. This stretch of new road along the border will provide support and help counter illegal drug and border crossing.

Soldiers constructed a 1.37-mile all-weather gravel road after removing vegetation from the area and cutting the road down to the sub-base. The unit then placed Ultra Flex, an articulated or hinged concrete mat, at four low-water crossing sites.

The Soldiers encountered a lot of rock that took a toll on the equipment, pushing the equipment to its limits and forcing the engineers to adapt. The Soldiers’ ability to change and adapt was what made the mission a success.

“The platoon gained valuable experience during the 19 Canyon Mission by utilizing tasks to build a road, providing Soldiers with ample equipment training and usage,” said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Steese, 2nd platoon sergeant and mission noncommissioned officer in charge, 561st Eng. Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde.

“NCOs learned how to read construction plans and to coordinate with vendors to deliver material to complete a road to standard for the border patrol.”

Many of the construction engineers operated dozers, excavators, scrapers, shakers and water pulls for the first time.

“We received a lot of hands-on equipment training, which enabled me to better understand how to better execute my job,” said Spc. Jennifer Page, heavy equipment operator, 561st Eng. Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde.

The platoon also put in silt fencing the length of the project to protect the environment from potential material runoff from the road. In addition, Soldiers dug ditches and lined them with six-inch stone to help control the flow of water and prevent soil erosion.

“The JTF-N project was a great opportunity for our Soldiers to gain experience and see the effects of their hard work,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Bledsoe, section sergeant, 561st Eng. Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde.
Platoons from the 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., will complete all three phases of the road.

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Category: News, Training

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