FORT PICKETT, Va. — United States Army Reserve Soldiers assigned to the Indiana, Pennsylvania-based 420th Engineer Company, 458th Engineer Battalion, 411th Engineer Brigade, conducted counter-improvised explosive device and route clearance training July 13-31, 2019, as part of their annual training at Fort Pickett, Virginia. The 420th is scheduled for an upcoming federal mobilization next year.
The 420th trained on a number of tasks during their time at Fort Pickett, including providing engineer support to explosive hazards clearing operations, performing route search and obstacle sweep for explosive hazards and obstacles, as well as route reconnaissance and
The company is preparing for a deployment to Afghanistan in 2020.
“This is an opportunity to do dismounted training, get hands on equipment,” said Capt. Robert Henning, Company Commander, 420th Eng. Company. “Drive the actual vehicles and do the mission that we are assigned in Afghanistan.”
The company is training together for the first time in the configuration that it will carry into its mobilization in 2020.
“This training is important,” Henning said. “The last battle assembly we finalized our
mobilization roster. So, we have everybody that’s going in the same platoon. Now everyone is
working as a squad, as a team, the same way it will be when we get to Afghanistan.”
Lt. Garren Kunes, 2nd Platoon leader with the 420th also commented on the newness of his
platoon and how the training here is helping to solidify his Soldiers as a unit.
“My platoon, we just got put together last month in June,” Kunes said. “In the Reserve side
battle assembly, there is more paper work and you don’t get as much time to work your TTP’s
(tactics, techniques and procedures) and SOP’s (standard operating procedures).”
Fort Pickett provides a training ground for the 420th that adds a sense of realism that is essential to units that are preparing for an overseas deployment.
“Some of the roads we are clearing are three and a half kilometers,” Henning said. We really
can’t get that kind of training in Indiana (Pennsylvania). We don’t have the large training
facilities. So, coming out here is really essential.”
The company is training with special route clearance equipment that they will be using
overseas. Vehicles such as the Buffalo Mine-Protected Clearance Vehicle, the Husky Vehicle
Mounted Mine Detector, as well as hand held mine detectors such as the AN/PSS-12 mine
detector and the DSP-27 GOLDIE.
“The GOLDIE detects command wires for command wired IED’s,” Kunes said. “It will pick up the thin wire that runs under the ground.”
The knowledge the company gains from their training at Fort Pickett is enabling the unit to
grow and be a better prepared route clearance company going into their mobilization.
“The CIED team that is putting on all this training for us have been squared away,” Kunes said.
“They have been making it challenging and really making us think. We have already altered our TTP’s several times just based off what we are learning from them. It’s priceless training here for us.”