NEWS | Feb. 11, 2017

Live demolition training

By Staf Sgt. Ashley Hayes 172nd Public Affairs Detachment

The morning started in the classroom where Soldiers manually put together the explosive C4 devices as a team. Each unit member had the opportunity to participate and put training into practice.

In the classroom, the Soldiers rehearsed battle drills and practiced priming explosives, said Specialist Michael Richards, combat engineer with the BEB. They then primed explosives, went through a final rehearsal and went straight to infantry battle drills. Everything culminated with detonating explosives.

Richards described in a little more detail why the unit practices battle drills and their importance when taking live fire from the enemy.

"We rehearsed infantry battle drills; react to contact, react to indirect fire, and squad movement techniques," said Richards. "It just incorporates how to move effectively when you take contact as a squad."

The unit spent a lot of time preparing to do the live drills. This reinforces the learning curve of the soldiers to make sure they really know their skills

"Any time we go to the range or prep for a mission, we take certain steps to rehearse," said Richards. "We perform several rehearsals up to, or leading to, the execution of the mission or range time."

Safety was of high importance at the range. Not only because of the cold weather, but the high risk when working with explosive materials. Sergeant Michael Babbin, a combat engineer, touched on the importance of safety during the training.

"The big part is just making sure we're setting up our standoff so no one is going to be too close or get injured," said Babbin. "As well as having range safety officers out there, making sure everyone is priming the explosives properly, and making sure there is nothing dangerous out there so everyone can go home safely after training."

Vermont's unique weather conditions and this training environment offered no mercy.

"We do cold weather training just to practice being able to function effectively and do our duties as a Soldier," said Richards. "Because we are acclimatized to cold weather and we regularly do cold weather training, it makes us unique as a unit and able to perform under these conditions."

One of the goals of the day was to boost morale and confidence along with enhancing training. The Soldiers were happy to be out in the field.

"A big part of the mission today was to boost the confidence of our Soldiers," said Babbin. "We are a mountain unit just working in the cold weather. It's one of our specialties here, getting our guys comfortable working in the snow and making sure we can still conduct our movements and be efficient."

Babbin also described what it means for the Soldiers to be out in the field working together.

"We definitely love this type of training," said Babbin. "We don't really like spending a lot of time in the classroom. One of the big parts of our unit is we get a lot of time in the field. Any time we get to get out of the classroom, not watching power points, it's a huge morale [booster] for our troops."