FORT A.P. HILL, Va. -- For the Marines of Bravo and Charlie Company, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, the last three weeks of training have been leading them up to this moment. They have worked tirelessly through static ranges, demolition ranges, urban assaults and much more. Now it was time to put what they had learned to the test in the grand, culminating event. Everything was on the line and it was time to prove their worth as combat engineers and basic infantrymen.
The two companies completed a squad-level fire and maneuver range as the crowning event for their deployment for training exercise at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Aug. 10-11, 2015. The event tested not only their skills as combat engineers, but also forced them to employ their basic infantry skills as well.
“Today was a culminating event,” said Capt. Mitchell Spidel, the Bravo Co. commander. “We have been training progressively, and everything that we have done so far we did today on one range.”
The range began with the engineers dashing out of the Assault Amphibious Vehicles, operated by the Marines of 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion in support of CEB, and immediately engaging enemy targets. Once the area was clear of enemies, the Marines set off an Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching System, an explosive charge used to clear barriers such as concertina wire or minefields. After the charge exploded and cleared the way for the Marines to advance, one squad rushed to set up a support by fire position, comprised of M240G machine guns, and suppressed the enemy so that another AAV could deposit another squad further downrange. That squad then advanced on the enemy position until all threats were neutralized.
“This training is realistic, especially since we are integrating so many pieces with live-fire, with AAV’s moving, and with communications up,” said 1st Lt. Connor McCubrey, the 1st platoon commander for Charlie Company. “Our Marines are getting a good look at what it really means to shoot, move and communicate when everything is on the line.”
Some of the important things the Marines learned while completing the event, McCubrey explained, included where they fit into the overall scheme of maneuver when working with an infantry platoon, good teamwork, and communication skills and how to work quickly yet tactically under pressure.
“This training is important for CEB because one of our core mission tasks is to act as a provisional infantry so that we can integrate and attach to the infantry and still provide those basic rifleman skills on top of the engineering capabilities we bring to the fight,” McCubrey said.
The Marines completed this exercise as the final training event of their three-week DFT exercise where the battalion focused on improving the basic infantry skills the engineers might not employ on a daily basis in preparation for future deployments. The culminating event was a chance for the companies to use the infantry skills they had learned as well as their unique engineering skillset.
“Our primary mission is to support the ground combat element with mobility, counter-mobility, survivability and general engineering,” Spidel said. “We provide the ground combat element flexibility and give them freedom of movement. We bring several tools to the table to allow them to maneuver to the battlefield.”