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NEWS | Aug. 15, 2016

Engineers of 368th Eng. Bn., 475th Eng. Co., deploy in support of Spartan Shield

By Courtesy Story Ismael Ortega Mobilization and Deployment, DPTMS Fort Bliss

Deploying in support of Operation Spartan Shield, the 368th Engineer Battalion based out of Londonderry, New Hampshire, and the 475th Engineer Company from Ponce, Puerto Rico, both U.S. Army Reserve units, departed from the Silas L. Copeland Arrival/ Departure Airfield Control Group to support construction missions throughout U.S. Central Command’s area of operations for the next nine months.

The 368th Eng. Bn. will serve as the construction management element and will provide resources and support to line companies while the 475th Eng. Co. will provide horizontal support. They will be joined by addition vertical, survey and design assets while in country.

With over half of the Soldiers from each unit deploying for the first time, time training here was invaluable to hone their craft and tactical skills. Those skills included armored convoys, securing an area and operating in a full loadout.

“A lot of them do this kind of work in the civilian side, so that prepared (them for this deployment),” Capt. Samuel Turner, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters, 368th Eng. Bn. said. “We’ve also gone through multiple training exercises … to become technically proficient in their Soldier and construction skills.”

Building on the relationship they established during a command and staff exercise held in February, the Soldiers furthered their expertise during the mission readiness exercise.

 Immersing themselves in tactical environments throughout the installation and McGregor Range, New Mexico, that simulated the conditions they would experience overseas, they operated up-armored vehicles and heavy machinery they don’t normally have access to.

The construction management team was tested on their decision making skills and ability to track the progress of projects, while the leaders from the 475th Eng. Co. used their time to refine their lateral communication and roles within the unit.

“It was a really good experience for the lieutenants. They learned how to delegate and work hand-in-hand with the noncommissioned officers. That’s where the success lies for this deployment,” Capt. Jackelyn Ruiz, commander, 475th Eng. Co., said. “The noncommissioned officers are the ones with the experience and they’re the ones who will guide you with your planning.”

In addition to improving facilities in the CENTCOM AOR, the unit plans to promote as many Soldiers as possible. To achieve this, a large number of Soldiers have completed their structured self-development course prior to departing for their mission and many plan to attend the Basic Leaders Course while overseas to increase their chances of promotion.

“The biggest thing is just to take care of each other. There’s a lot of external factors that can make this kind of things difficult,” Turner said. “As long as the people from the top down are looking out for each other, making sure that everyone has everything they need and are taken care of … then we’ll be alright,” Turner said.

“Everybody’s had a really good attitude. We haven’t had any real issues with discipline or anything,” Lt. Col. Joseph Cox, battalion commander, 368th Eng. Bn. said. “They’re great Americans, every one of them. They’re doing a great job and I’m just happy to have them here.’’