2nd Lt. Robert M. Leedham
84th Engineer Battalion Public Affairs, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Soldiers stumbled out of the wood line, muddied and triumphant from fighting off fatigue, rain and hard labor, after completing their final mission of the battalion’s field training exercise, or FTX, at East Range, here.
The 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, conducted its quarterly FTX, recently, and focused on achieving proficiency in tactical operating procedures, multi-echelon command and control, and a series of collective and individual tasks.
The exercise created a realistic training environment to simulate a high-intensity conflict scenario with a fictional enemy.
Squad leaders received intelligence updates concerning both friendly forces and enemy activity at each battle position and were evaluated on their decision making, adaptability and troop-leading procedures needed to accomplish each mission.
Training was comprised of three separate operations. The first challenge consisted of a movement-to-contact drill, where Soldiers practiced tactical movement while completing individual tasks that included reacting to a possible improvised explosive device, proper use of protective equipment to avoid contamination, as well as the evacuation and treatment of casualties.
The second lane became notoriously infamous among the Soldiers participating. It focused on chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear protective measures and was seen as the most physically challenging of the lanes, according to the Soldiers, who were tested on the use of protective clothing to avoid contamination, construction of a wire obstacle and properly camouflaging equipment.
“Squad leaders had to implement a rest plan while continuing to maintain the security of the perimeter, based on the intelligence updates they received throughout the night,” said Maj. Esther Pinchasin, operations officer, 84th Eng. Bn.
The sound of shovels and pickets striking through dense soil and thick roots was heard throughout the night and into the sunrise, as squad leaders toiled to keep their Soldiers awake and on task.
“Squad leaders were evaluated on their leadership as well as the technical completion of tasks,” said 2nd Lt. Scott Kantner, an observer and trainer during the FTX.
For squad leaders, many of whom have served as mechanics or heavy vehicle operators in the past, this was their first opportunity to take the lead in a combat-related exercise.
“It was very intense and realistic training,” said Staff Sgt. Danielle Quimbley, Forward Support Company, 84th Eng. Bn. “Squad leaders were able to assess their Soldiers and how they performed, and Soldiers were pushed to their full potential through team-building exercises.”
This FTX provided an opportunity for Soldiers to expand their field craft capabilities and further develop the leadership capabilities of squad and team leaders, building a good foundation for future training and operations.