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NEWS | July 24, 2017

Engineers provide training grounds for allies

By Staff Sgt. Felix Fimbres U.S. Army Reserve Command

The U.S. Army Reserve is finishing up construction of the Romanian Joint National Training Center in Cincu, Romania that will help improve cooperation, coordination, and warfighting capabilities for allied nations throughout Europe.

“[I’ve seen] a lot of progress in what will probably be the premier maneuver range in all of south east Europe,” said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, Commanding General, U.S. Army Europe. “Without the Army Reserve this wouldn’t be happening — the Army Reserve is like oxygen for me.”

The 926th Engineering Brigade has led the movement of Soldiers, both Army Reserve and National Guard, as well as heavy equipment from locations across the south east United States to a remote location in Cincu, in several weeks — coordinating shipment via truck, sea vessels, and rail.

Col. Paul Mattern, Commander, 926th Engineering Brigade, said that this mission has helped train and prepare his units to support active duty elements as quickly as possible.

“We have Soldiers across six states, Resolute Castle gives us an opportunity, in an austere and remote environment, that is unforgiving — if you left something at home you can’t go back, you have to make do,” said Mattern. “We also have units performing Objective Training and Observer Controller Training so when they return home they get a list of improvements and sustains — all soldiers are qualified before they go home.”

The U.S. Army Reserve brought a plethora of equipment to include: scrapers, dozers, front-end loaders and cranes to accomplish the mission. They coordinated with civilian contractors at home, ran the rail head, and worked with Germans to show its soldiers and leaders what it takes to actually mobilize a unit.

Lt. Col. John Haas, battalion commander of the 391st Engineer Battalion South Carolina National Guard, said that Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers are limited to 29 days in many instances, which means that the mission must be accomplished with a minimal full-time cadre and dozens of rotations. In total, 1800 Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers will come to Romania and do their part to ensure the success of the mission. Meanwhile, an additional 48 Reserve Soldiers from the United Kingdom will also take part, as well as 78 Romanian Soldiers.
“I’ve been doing a lot of cross training, a lot of things I don’t normally do at home station, that I’m looking forward to bring back home with me,” said Spc. Jonathan Baughn, 926th Engineer Battalion (Forward Support Company) in Birmingham, Al. “I’ve really enjoyed working side by side — it’s an experience I’ll never forget.”

Of course, not every mission is without its difficulties. There have been many challenges facing the operation, from weather to language barriers, however, the coalition managed to overcome them all.