BOISE, Idaho –
Soldiers with the 416th Theater Engineer Command instructed Army National Guard and Active Duty counterparts on newly fielded equipment during various training sessions throughout July.
The Army Reserve engineers brought their know-how of the Armored Vehicle-Launched Bridge (AVLB), a folding portable bridge made to provide a conduit across battlefield obstacles like rivers, to the units to spark a viable learning partnership.
Though the equipment is not new to the Army inventory, it is new to the active duty and National Guard units, and learning the nuances of how to operate and maintain the equipment is key, according to Army National Guard Sgt. Tyrell Hanson with Company B, 116th Brigade Engineer Battalion.
“It’s rather overwhelming until you start to operate it and realize how it works,” Hanson said. “That’s with every vehicle and every platform. They each have their own little nuances and things that can break or go wrong. Part of learning about them is learning how those things are going to happen and what you can do to mitigate that.”
The 416th TEC Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Matthew. V. Baker, who visited one AVLB training session hosted by 321st Engineer Battalion on Gowen Field Air National Guard Base in Boise, Idaho, agreed and stressed the importance of the transformation of the Army with the Army Reserve teaching the other components.
“Learning how to repair them and how to operate them – that’s the importance of both courses,” said Baker of the learning sessions. “I think that’s a good balance. It gives you the know-how, the core understanding of what to expect when you get these in.”
Active duty Spc. Richard Adams, with the 87th Sapper Company out Fort Hood, Texas, said the AVLB training acted as a type of mentorship program between the different components. “We’re getting a lot of hands-on training and I’m excited for us to get this equipment.”
Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Larson, of the 391st Engineer Company also out of Boise, said all the TEC developed curriculum classes have a twofold outcome. The first to increase the core understanding for operating and maintaining the equipment and then bringing that back as “train-the-trainer,” knowledge. The second outcome is to act as a network for Soldiers to pull from all components to further their reach and knowledge.
Both the Fort Hood and IDARNG units are converting to a Combat Engineer Company – Armor, which are authorized this equipment, but had not previously operated the equipment.
“When the balloon goes up to deploy, we’re all going to work together,” Larson said of all components working together. “Keeping things like this alive is just going to make us an even stronger force and a more robust force to go wherever we need to go in the world to take on any kind of adversary.”
The AVLB training partnership (both the Field Level Maintenance New Equipment Training and Operator New Equipment Training) provides shared institutional knowledge, while also increasing a total-component mindset.
Two units within the 321st EN BN spearheaded the curriculum – the 391st Mobile Augmentee Company and the 744th MAC.