Army engineers build new training lanes at Fort A.P. Hill

FORT A.P. HILL, Va. – Following In the interest of doing more with less, the garrison here recently leveraged training for Army engineers from Fort Knox, Ky., to expand Fort A.P. Hill’s ability to train Soldiers on locating buried explosive devices. IEDs continue to be the number 1 killer of U.S. and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan. As such, the military is taking an aggressive and proactive approach to preparing our forces to defeat this threat through challenging and realistic training at homestation locations.
From July 22 to August 1, 12 Soldiers from the 15th Engineer Company, led by 1st Lt. Daniel J. Walker and Staff Sgt Nathaniel R. Williams, took on the task of constructing a training platform that allows our Warriors to accomplish the necessary training that will defeat the IED threat. The 12-lane “Minehound” Training Lane built at Fort AP Hill enables Warriors to sharpen their skills in finding and disabling buried mines or IED’s. Supporting up to 30 Warriors per day, the lanes replicate a variety of terrain types that they may encounter during a deployment and challenge their ability to quickly and safely identify, mark, and bypass potential buried threats to their movement.
The 15th Engineering Company’s mission is to increase the combat effectiveness of support brigades or engineer brigades at the corps and division level by accomplishing mobility, counter-mobility, survivability, and general engineering tasks. 1st Lt. Daniel J. Walker summed up his units efforts, “The platoon I have is made up of all 12N (horizontal construction engineers). 12Ns should be able to do multiple tasks including building roads, digging fighting positions, and building berms. To do this we use the same techniques and equipment that we did at A.P. Hill. The test sections before the actual lanes were dug similar to the way you would dig a fighting position. The lanes themselves are dug similar to the way you would put in a culvert. This project was great for our new soldiers to gain valuable stick time on various pieces of equipment and our new NCOs to learn how to run a job site. We are certainly looking forward to working with A.P. Hill again in the future.”
“The Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization provided FAPH resources to include funding; in addition they provided the project manager for oversight of the project. Fort A.P. Hill’s Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS), Range Control coordinated troop construction with the 15th Eng Co. and for the logistics support. For this project, there was no official tasking, the unit did this as part of their training.” said Michael Earl, Director of DPTMS.
Fort A.P. Hill’s Command Sergeant Major, Sgt. Maj. Keith Whitcomb, was quick to point out: “These highly motivated individuals not only came to Fort A.P. Hill to train, but in the process expanded the garrison’s ability to train others by building a facility that allows others to sharpen their combat skills.”
Spc. Corey N. Null, 15th EN Company, said he enjoyed his time at A.P. Hill and the chance to share his experience with others in his company, teaching newer Soldiers how to operate the equipment. He said, “I am an artist of the earth and the equipment is my pencil.”
Before the company left A.P. Hill, Garrison Commander Lt. Col. Peter E. Dargle thanked them for creating the advanced training area, handing out certificates of appreciation and giving commander’s coins to Pfc. El N. Jackson and Pfc. Aubrey M. Marshall for their exceptional performance and outstanding initiative.
“Buried mines and improvised explosive devices are the most significant threats our Warriors face when deployed to Afghanistan. What has been accomplished at Fort A.P. Hill, in relatively quick order and at a low cost, is a premier training site enabling our Warriors to detect and defeat this threat. This area reinforces A.P. Hill’s proactive approach to training our forces on both the current and future threat. The 15th Engineer Company’s professionalism and dedication in constructing this lane will save our Warriors lives on future battlefields.” Lt. Col. Peter E. Dargle said.

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