Engineers bridge the gap: Kentucky Guardsmen’s participation in Warfighter exposes new mission

Story by Sgt. Brandy Mort, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Capt. Sean Higgs, commander of the 2061st Multi-Role Bridge Company listens to a briefing during the Warfighter Exercise 15-5, May 29- June 14, at Fort Hood Mission Command Training Center, Texas. Higgs acted as a 36th Engineer Brigade’s liaison officer. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brandy Mort)

FORT HOOD, Texas – If there is one thing that the Kentucky National Guard’s 201st Engineer Battalion knows, it’s how to build – whether it is a road, a bridge or a career. Although the Kentucky Guardsmen didn’t get dirty for their annual training, the battalion’s expertise was crucial to the Warfighter Exercise 15-5, May 29- June 14, at Fort Hood Mission Command Training Center, Texas.

“We are the main experts in bridging the gap,” said 1st Sgt. Aaron Lester, 2061st Multi-Role Bridge Company first sergeant.

“In this scenario, other countries depend on our troops and our Multi Role Bridge Company in order to properly maneuver across a wet gap crossing,” he said. “After the exercise, we will be able to take back what we learn and utilize the training in preparation for our company. It will be a very important contributor to our development. ”

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Second Lt. Bryan Sager II, intelligence officer with the 201st Engineer follows along during a briefing during the Warfighter Exercise 15-5, May 29- June 14, at Fort Hood Mission Command Training Center, Texas. During the exercise, Sager also acted as the Unit Public Affairs historian representative. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brandy Mort)

The 2061st MRBC, is one of Kentucky’s newest units, so Lester said the WFX 15-5 was an opportunity for the Soldiers to understand their new role. The exercise joined together the 201st and other units from Kentucky’s 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, and gave the Soldiers a first look at how the MRBC could be utilized in future contingency operations.

Warfighter exercises simulate realistic, complex scenarios that Army units must be prepared for. Like real world combat operations, they combine an array of forces from U.S. active duty, Reserve, National Guard and allied forces – in WFX 15-5, the Canadian Forces also played a role.

“The overall cooperation with the adjacent units that we’re dealing with both active, reserve, air force, multi-national components and civilian contractors, have all been a benefit to our Soldiers and our leaders moving forward,” said Lt. Col. Douglas Clay, battalion commander.

“What that is going to bring, is depth to our organization,” he said.

Clay said the restructuring of the 201st is a force multiplier not only for the National Guard in contingency operations, but also at home for disaster response. Exercises such as the WFX 15-5, test the battalion’s ability to quickly react to numerous scenarios, including building bridges to move troops and equipment from one area to another, something that would be of benefit to the Kentucky Guard during flooding seasons. Clay said he was proud of his Soldier’s success during this training exercise, even though it is the first major exercise for the battalion after its restructure.

“[Our Soldiers] may be uncomfortable operating at this level but they are going to take these skills and what they’ve learned here back to Kentucky and be able take that future operation and be able to plan and execute that to a higher extent,” he said.

The professionalism and ability to conduct a new mission to standard caught the eye of Maj. Gen. Lester Simpson, the 36th Infantry Division commander.

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Maj. Gen. Lester Simpson, 36th Infantry Division Commander, discusses operating procedures during the Warfighter Exercise 15-5, May 29- June 14, at Fort Hood Mission Command Training Center, Texas. Simpson was very pleased with the Kentucky National Guard’s involvement with the exercise. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brandy Mort)

Simpson said he was pleased with Clay and his troops’ abilities, and thanked Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, adjutant general for Kentucky, for allowing the division to “utilize the 201st in such an important role.”

“The river crossing is a very key operation,” he said, “and without engineers to establish bridges we would not be able to have success and meet our training objectives.”

Simpson said the WFX is an important training tool both collectively and at the individual unit level.

“You have to work hard towards the training objectives and what you are going to get out of it,” he said. “Because if something happens and you are called up, this type of scenario helps you to work on the coordination efforts you need to be proficient at when you get there.”

 

 

 

Video by Spc. Cody Copper, 133rd MPAD

 

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