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Simulated natural disasters test engineers

Soldiers of the 133rd Engineer Company spent two weeks of annual training mid-June to get a real-world feel for their jobs.

mechanics at AT
Sgt. Trevor Peterson (left) and Spc. Jacob Corbitt, mechanics for the 133rd Engineer Company install a weapons turret on a Humvee during their annual training on Camp Guernsey in Guernsey, Wyoming. With the turret installed the Humvee will be able to have a weapon mounted on it for use by the unit. (Wyoming Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Moore.)

The unit’s 94 soldiers in both the horizontal and vertical sections worked on projects around camp and at several ranges in the North Training Area June 16-29. The training culminated with a three-day field exercise, which tested their reaction to simulated natural disasters.

“Camp Guernsey offers a highly dynamic and complex training area that allows for various elements like pyrotechnics and operation force elements to be used with relative ease,” said Capt. Benjamin Nemec, the unit’s commander.

Traditionally, soldiers in the horizontal section use such heavy equipment as bulldozers and road graders to clear away land for the vertical section to do its job. The latter can then erect structures to facilitate various military operations. The soldiers lay concrete foundations, string electrical wiring, and install plumbing.

In this operation, the horizontal and vertical sections conducted convoy operations. They hauled heavy equipment out to the field, then used that heavy equipment—bulldozers, road graders and dump trucks—to make improvements on the ranges.

Meanwhile, the vertical section joined Camp Guernsey’s Department of Public Works (DPW) in assisting with maintenance and repairs around the camp.

Explaining the unit’s role, Sgt. 1st Class Aaron D. Leavitt said, “We linked up with DPW and conducted an assessment on what we would work on and how we could help with general camp improvement.”

The unit spruced up a helipad used by the camp. It also built a landing strip for unmanned aircraft, and installed culverts for drainage in the surrounding areas to head off flooding.

“We’re doing real-world work, which allows us to maximize our training,” said 1st Lt. Jeffrey Saelens, the unit’s executive officer. “We get to see the impact of that work.”

To maximize training, soldiers went to different locations around the camp and ranges. Two platoons stayed in the field to better simulate a work environment in combat. A third platoon stayed on camp to work with officials on repairs and maintenance.

“Splitting our troops allowed us to get more bang for our buck,” Saelens said.

The 133rd Engineer Company wrapped up annual training with a three-day field training exercise that tested both styles of engineering. The vertical and horizontal sections engaged in a mission which provided defense support of civilian authorities, training that met the commander’s intent for mobility and support for such operations.