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NEWS | July 10, 2017

Resolute Castle 2017: Building things to blow them up

By Capt. Colin Cutler 926th Engineer Brigade

Soldiers of the U.K. Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia) and the United States Army Reserve's 926th Engineer Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command, are building a range to withstand future combat engineers’ attempts to blow it up. With three lanes dedicated to door-breaching, window entry, and explosive entry, it will be the main breaching range at the Joint National Training Base, Cincu, Romania, during Resolute Castle 2017.

“It’s a confidence course,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Oliver, 225th Field Squadron. “It’s where engineers can learn to blow the handle off a door while standing just a few meters away.” The integrity of the walls is of the highest standard, with each cavity in each block reinforced with rebar and filled with mortar.

While the Royal Engineers are taking the lead on this project, it is a truly joint operation. Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1 have helped pour the concrete pad, and Army Reserve Soldiers from the 926th Engineer Brigade have driven heavy equipment alongside their U.K. counterparts.

Forklifts off-loaded bags of concrete from a HEMMT while Sapper Anthony Heath heaved a bucket of mortar up onto the wall as he said, “At one point, we were hand-carrying 40 kilo bags over the muddy road until we started working together. In the end, working together is what NATO is all about.”

Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sykora of Chattanooga, Tennessee, is assigned to 390th Vertical Engineer Company, 926th Engineer Battalion, United States Army Reserve, and works in the bill of materials yard at the JNTC. The standard operating procedure is for the constructing unit to pick up needed materials at the BOM Yard, but Sykora said, “When we saw the need, we started moving the building material out there with our heavy equipment.”

Cpl. Matt Williams of the 225th Field Squadron (Militia), U.K. Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers, said that though they are building walls together, they are also building friendships—“There’s a good learning curve, but when you’ve got a bunch of blokes laughing and joking over lunch, you know you’ve got a good thing.”

The 926th Engineer Brigade, United States Army Reserve, and the 122nd Engineer Battalion, South Carolina Army National Guard, are partnered with the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers and Romanian 10th Engineer Brigade for Operation Resolute Castle 2017. The purpose of the exercise is to build infrastructure for future training operations in Eastern Europe, enhance responsiveness to threats in the region, and strengthen the NATO alliance; all of which support the initiatives of Operation Atlantic Resolve.