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NEWS | July 25, 2017

Army Early Response Force engineers train to shape the battlefield

By Sgt. Thomas Crough 301st Public Affairs Detachment

“Our mission is to shape the battlefield, and my soldiers are getting ‘dig time’ practicing digging trenches, fighting positions and clearing obstacles, but we are also executing real world missions to improve Fort Hunter Liggett,” said Capt. Chris Appling, company commander of the 718th Engineer Company, Fort Benning, Georgia.

“My Soldiers in 2nd platoon have been out in the field clearing fire breaks to prevent the spread of brush fires in the area,”  Appling said.

These multi-faceted missions are training value multipliers and particularly important for the 718th as they are one of several U.S. Army Reserve units designated as an Army Early Response Force.

“We have to be ready to deploy within 30 days of notification. You may have heard the phrase ‘fight tonight’ which means those units are typically tasked to support a particular location or region of the world, as an AERF unit we can be sent anywhere in the world within 30 days,” said Appling. “For us…we have to be medically ready to go, trained and ready to go and have the equipment ready to go. Our operational tempo is intense, every battle assembly we must be focused on a particular task.”

“Engineering operations for CSTX are real world missions rather than just moving dirt,” said Sgt. John Brownlee, a horizontal construction engineer with the 718th. “We receive an operations order, we have to get trip tickets to move our vehicles and we have to execute our missions safely and to standard. It’s more than just operating the equipment; it’s working as if we were deployed.”

Nearly 5,400 service members from the U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Army, Army National Guard, U.S. Navy, and Canadian Armed Forces are training at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., as part of the 84th Training Command’s CSTX 91-17-03 and ARMEDCOM’s Global Medic. This is a unique training opportunity that allows U.S. Army Reserve units to train alongside their multi-component and joint partners as part of the America’s Army Reserve evolution into the most lethal Federal Reserve force in the history of the nation.