BAMBERG, Germany — Engineers from the 370th and 541st Sapper Companies of the 54th Engineer Battalion, 21st Theater Sustainment Command’s 18th Engineer Brigade, deployed to the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, to execute training exercises Dagger Strikes III and IV.
To validate the companies for combat operations in Afghanistan, the companies conducted their mission readiness exercises — company evaluations that ensure they are qualified to deploy.
Each 12-day exercise consisted of classes and training, including medical drills, vehicle rollover training, call for fire support, equipment familiarization and a culmination event that included six days of continuous day and night route clearance operations.
Throughout end-of-year exercises, both companies faced various challenges, including heavy rain and snowfall, muddy roads, frozen ground, improvised explosive devices, small arms fire attacks and extremely rugged terrain.
In the end, both companies proved they are prepared for the challenges faced in deployment, such as evolving enemy tactics and continuous operations.
“The realistic and well-organized training was an eye-opening experience of combat operations for those Soldiers who have never deployed before,” said 1st Sgt. Otto Valdez, first sergeant of the 541st Sapper Co.
The Soldiers came to understand the reasoning for all the training they had gone through up until this point, and the leadership was pleased to see their Soldiers coming together and drawing on all the training they have received throughout the year.
“This was an unbelievable training opportunity with very realistic scenarios,” said 1st Lt. Zachariah Balent, 2nd platoon leader of the 370th Sapper Co.
While conducting after-action reviews, both companies agreed the success they had at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center will pay huge dividends as they prepare to conduct combat operations in Afghanistan.
Observers from the 18th Eng. Bde. command team, the JMRC’s observer
controllers, the 12th Aviation Brigade, and Headquarters and Headquarters Company and Forward Support Company from the 54th Eng. Bn., provided support to the deploying companies.
The support units played the roles of maneuver commanders, evaluators, observer controllers, and simulated aviation coverage to include both medical and close fire support for ground units.
They also ensured fuel and ammo were available when they were needed and that the Soldiers received hot meals each day.