GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - Soldiers from 15th Engineer Battalion, 18th Engineer Brigade spent two weeks simultaneously completing construction projects and conducting platoon evaluations May 27 at the Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels training areas.
Platoons from the 500th Engineer Horizontal Company and the 902nd Engineer Vertical Company were evaluated on their construction skills, warrior tasks and their interactions with simulated media and Afghan citizens.
Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy Jackson, a squad leader with 500th Eng. Co., said his platoon's training mission was to flatten out an area that had been previously occupied by a U.S. operating base.
Since the operating base closure, the area had become an enemy stronghold and a danger to the local populace in the area.
"This will deter the enemy from coming back here," said Jackson. "We are here to win the hearts and minds of the local Afghans. The first step is to have respect for these people and their culture."
As part of their relationship building and interactions with the simulated local populace, many platoons were evaluated on their participation in key leader engagements.
Throughout each meeting, Army leaders discussed with local leaders the current food resources, medical services and opportunities for development in their perspective communities.
To complete their real-world mission of reconstructing roads and building B-Huts throughout the training areas, the engineers used multiple types of construction equipment. Graders, rollers, water distributors and a variety of power-operated tools were used to facilitate the quick progression of each construction site.
Army 1st Lt. Joe Caperna, the 3rd platoon leader with the 902nd Eng. Co. said his platoon's training mission was to construct a B-Hut that was to be used as a shelter for local Afghan citizens.
A B-Hut is a small building that serves a variety of functions, from office space to living area for example. And in all actuality, the B-Hut they constructed will be used as training facility at Hohenfels.
While soldiers who train and work at the Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels training areas will benefit from the new facilities and roadways built by the 15th Engineering Battalion doldiers for many years to come, the immediate benefit to the soldiers from 15th Engineering Battalion was valuable knowledge and experience gained from the training and evaluation portions of their real-world mission.