Engineers corral new “Buffalo” for upcoming mission

Story by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Elmore, 1123rd Sapper Company, Operations NCO

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Soldiers of the 1123rd Engineer Company train on the Buffalo Surrogate Vehicle as part of their train-up for Route Clearance operations in Afghanistan. The Buffalo is a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle with a hydraulic arm used to interrogate suspected Improvised Explosive Devices.(KYNG photo by Sgt. Kelly Burch, 1123rd Unit Public Affairs Historian Representative)

FORT KNOX, Ky — The 1123rd Engineer Sapper Company of Leitchfield, Kentucky had the opportunity to receive some practical hands on training at Fort Knox, Ky., Nov. 3, 2012. The 1123rd  continually trains to remain proficient on demolition, obstacle emplacement and reduction as well as mobility and counter-mobility operations.

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Soldiers of the 1123rd Engineer Company train on the Buffalo Surrogate Vehicle as part of their train-up for Route Clearance operations in Afghanistan. The Buffalo is a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicle with a hydraulic arm used to interrogate suspected improvised explosive devices.(KYNG photo by Sgt. Kelly Burch, 1123rd Unit Public Affairs Historian Representative)

The training mission of the 1123rd  was to conduct route clearance operations during the training. The Soldiers received vital training and experience by being able to, for the first time, use recently acquired Buffalo armored vehicles or MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected). The Buffalo was built for protection from IEDs and up to 45 pound landmine explosion under any wheel.

“As a sapper company this was the first time we’ve had a chance to focus collective training solely on route clearance missions,” said Sgt. 1st Class Geoffrey Gleitz. “From task organization to planning and then to the execution of our mission, all focused around route clearance. As a platoon we were able to start developing SOPs based off of our training, previous experiences and current TTPs.”

According to Soldiers of the unit, the sappers’ aggressive nature allows them to adapt to any mission the Army hands out.  Only a handful of the Soldiers in the 1123rd  had any experience in route clearance.  They relied on their leadership, embedded expertise, and natural drive for success to complete the training.

This was the first time the 1123rd had the opportunity to incorporate the Buffalo for training on a training weekend. Individually, Soldiers were instructed by members of Counter IED Integration Cells on hand held detection systems. Soldiers also received several briefs that were supported by Kentucky’s Pre-deployment Training and Assistance Element.

The 1123rd is gearing up for a potential deployment to Afghanistan in 2013.

“Continued mission focused training like this will allow us to develop as we prepare for future operations,” said Gleitz.

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Soldiers of the 1123rd Engineer Company soldiers are instructed by members of Counter IED Integration Cells on hand held detection systems at Fort Knox, Ky., Nov. 2, 2012.(KYNG photo by Sgt. Kelly Burch, 1123rd Unit Public Affairs Historian Representative)

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