NEWS | June 22, 2021

Engineer Elements Prep for New Theater

By Maj. William Allred 412th Theater Engineer Command

VICKSBURG, MISS. - The 412th Theater Engineer Command (TEC), along with one of its direct-reporting units (DRUs), is currently displaying their considerable skills in an austere, combined, joint exercise designed to prepare them for future operations in the Indo-Pacific region.

Coordinating with military forces around the globe, determining regional engineer capabilities and supporting an ever-changing geospatial landscape are just a few of the challenges 412th Soldiers face.

Col. Steven Hayden, the 412th Chief of Staff, explained how the command is tasked to provide engineer support across the Pacific theater. This year’s exercise allows the 412th Soldiers to practice physically together as a staff for the first time since the rise of COVID-19.

“We, as an engineer command, need to be able to visualize, assess and direct engineer efforts across our area of responsibility,” said Hayden. “This allows the commander to gain confidence in his staff for our real-world mission.”

Master Sgt. Nicholas Matkin, the acting 412th Operations Sergeant Major, said that this year’s annual exercise and upcoming events are unique opportunities to deploy forward.

“(These) allow us to exercise muscle movement that wouldn’t be possible at the reserve center (in Vicksburg, Miss.),” said Matkin. “The results of this training will lessen the margin of error in our procedures, causing fewer incidents and mistakes later.”

The 865th Forward Engineer Support Team - Advance (FEST-A), commanded by the 412th’s DRU - the 368th FEST - Main, hails from Fort Bragg, NC and shares the training environment this summer in preparation for deployment.

Capt. Nathaniel Clark, 865th Team Leader from Greensboro, NC, explained that his unit is perfecting the techniques in engineer reconnaissance and project designs for potential bases as well as additional theater construction projects. The team estimates the size of airfields and camps while also providing time and material calculations for such ventures.

However, Clark stated that the building of their skills was not the most exciting part. Instead, it was when the U.S. Navy adopted the unit’s products for their immediate worldwide use.

“I was impressed when I found out,” said Clark. “Our products are used now by Navy elements in theater plans and efforts. I’m glad they are.”

The 865th will soon deploy to Kuwait in support of Central Command operations, but Clark said that they are ready for whatever challenges lay ahead.

“We are excited,” said Clark. “It was a challenge to have commands see what we can do. Now, we can demonstrate our capabilities to larger audiences.”

The 412th and 865th both seek to improve their individual units and the military as a whole. While not currently scheduled to fully deploy, the 412th confidently trains its Soldiers for all situations.

“Our Soldiers are learning a lot,” said Hayden. “The simulated battle scenario stresses the commander and his staff, proving we are ready for our true mission.”

Are they ready? The Chief of Staff believes so.

“Morale is high,” said Hayden. “Soldiers are making it happen.”

Time and future operations will tell as the 412th and its DRUs brave the challenges of a new combined, joint theater - the Indo-Pacific - in support of the joint-command's objectives.

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