July 14, 2008

189th MRBC, 276th Engineers team up for AT

By Capt. Dayna Rowden
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

Junior Soldiers from the 189th Multi-Role Bridge Company and the 276th Engineer Battalion take on the position of platoon leaders and plan the position of security checkpoints using a sand table. (Photo by Capt. Dayna Rowden, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — When a National Guard unit is mobilized, not everyone from the unit gets to go on the deployment. Many Soldiers who are not medically cleared to deploy or those in a stabilization period, like College First, stay behind and continue serving in Virginia. These Soldiers, however, need to stay current in their training.

After a large number of Soldiers from the 189th Multi-Role Bridge Company were cross leveled and deployed to fill vacancies in the 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry and the 237th Engineer Company, a handful of Soldiers were left behind. These Soldiers combined with non-deploying Soldiers from the 276th Engineer Battalion to conduct annual training at Fort Pickett in early June.

Though the primary mission of the 189th MRBC is conduct river-crossing operations, Capt. LaTonya N. Martin, the company’s commander, said the Soldiers would be primarily working on common-core training tasks.

“We’re trying to conduct tasks that all the Soldiers in the battalion would have to do if they would deploy,” said Martin. “We don’t have enough qualified or experienced personnel to put a bridge in the water.”

The 63 Soldiers conducted convoy operations and individual weapons qualifications, established traffic check points, and acted as casualties for the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package (CERF-P) exercise. 

Junior Soldiers had the unique opportunity to serve in key leadership positions during the training. Specialist and privates acted as platoon leaders and platoon sergeants. Throughout the week non-commissioned officers conducted crawl-walk-run training that culminated in the junior Soldiers planning operations, issuing operational orders and supervising tasks.

“”They’re really motivated,” said Sgt. First Class Frank Cross. “They’re learning that communication is key to successful leadership.”

Martin said that though she was uncertain how the Soldiers from so many different units would come together during the training, the Soldiers came together and impressed her with their cohesion.

“I was concerned at first, because many of the Soldiers were used to operating one way with another unit,” said Martin. “The Soldiers seem to really enjoy the training.”

“They came together in three days to make a really tight unit,” said Cross. “The Army is the same way. People come from all across the country, and they learn to work well together.”

The Soldiers from the 189th MRBC are normally outfitted to put bridges in the water. For this training, they received some outside help.

“We came with a limited number of vehicles,” said Martin. “Most of our trucks are for hauling boats and bridges. The other units and Fort Pickett stepped up to help us out. We received military police vehicles from the 229th MPs and ambulances from the Regional Training Institute. Someone even gave us constantina wire for our check points.”

“After this training, I think these Soldiers can be inserted into any unit and be an effective combat multiplier,” said Cross.

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