595th Sapper Company trains for hybrid threat
WSMR Public Affairs:
White Sands Missile Range, N.M. – Soldiers from the 2nd Engineer Battalion’s 595th Sapper Company took to the hills of White Sands Missile Range the week of April 3 to train up on a new kind of warfare.
Looking ahead to a possible new kind of threat, the combat engineers conducted training in skills like route clearance, as well conventional combat engineer skills like obstacle placement, minefield placement and reacting to fire.
“We don’t currently do that in our current theater of operations, but in conventional warfare some of the tasks we have to do as combat engineers is emplace obstacles or reduce obstacles for freedom of maneuver for friendly forces,” said Sgt. Richard Roberts, a squad leader with the 595th Sapper Company’s 3rd Platoon.
While it can be tempting for Army leaders to focus solely on the skills needed for the current war, the Soldiers instead decided to include conventional warfare skills training in the exercise. Going back on conventional warfare skills is part of a training plan intended to help prepare the Soldiers for a possible hybrid threat scenario.
“It was definitely a learning experience for me as a team leader, as well as the guys,” said Sgt. Cameron Van Camp, a squad leader with the 595th Sapper Co.
Typically war can be categorized into two basic types: conventional warfare and unconventional warfare. Conventional warfare features formal military units conducting combat actions against one another. Unconventional warfare can feature irregular units, like guerillas, criminals and insurgents conducting attacks and often hiding among the civilian population. A hybrid threat combines these two concepts, creating a threat force that can leverage capabilities from either type, like taking direct actions on a front line while also taking insurgent action behind the lines.
To conduct the training, the platoons cycled through a series of training lanes, each one taking turns either going through a lane, or representing enemy combatants as the opposing force. Lanes included first aid training, reacting to enemy fire, obstacle placement, minefield placement, minefield breaching, route clearance, dismounted patrols and placement of a modular pack mine system, or MOPMS.
The MOPMS is a portable mine deployment system that once placed and activated dispenses mines, so Soldiers don’t have to physically place each one. The mines themselves can be controlled remotely, allowing the Soldiers to disable them when the minefield is no longer needed.
“You don’t want to hit someone that [the minefield] is not intended for. You don’t want to hit friendly units; you don’t want to hit civilians. The target is the enemy,” Van Camp said.
By conducting this training the Soldiers were able to brush up on important combat engineer skills that typically aren’t used in counter-insurgency operations. While activities like minefield placement or breaching are not used in current operations in Afghanistan, with many combat engineers instead running route clearance or other counter-IED and ambush operations, the 595th wants to be ready not only for a possible deployment to Afghanistan, but also any other fight that may need their skills.
“You never know what kind of war can kick off where,” Roberts said.
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