CAMP ROBERTS, Calif. --
Engineers are commonly attached to other units and integrated into their missions. It is a rare occurrence when the engineers get to conduct training focused solely on their job field.
Marines with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, conducted Exercise Pioneer Express at Camp Roberts, Fort Hunter Liggett and Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 28-Sept. 10, 2015, to train and evaluate command and control of engineer forces, reconnaissance, mobility, counter-mobility and survivability operations in order to prepare for future real-world engineer operations.
“Company B was fortunate to be selected as the company to go forward to simulate dispersed operations and work the relationship between a company forward and the battalion back in the rear,” said Capt. Richard Noxon, the commander of Company B, 1st CEB.
The engineer-oriented exercise allowed the Marines to conduct a wide range of training events and gain experience with the equipment.
“We got to do the whole gambit of combat engineering,” Noxon said. “We did survivability by building a platoon-sized combat operations post. We did both mobility and counter-mobility demolitions. We did a lot of dismounted patrols, counter improvised explosive device sweeps and route clearance.”
The exercise consisted of large scale, engineer-based training, such as crossing terrain barriers with the Armored Vehicle-Launched Bridge and employing antipersonnel obstacle breaching systems. The exercise also included several new and rare experiences for the battalion.
“I think we’re breaking a lot of new ground here,” said Noxon. “It’s the first time we’ve put all our equipment on rail cars to move it from base to base and it’s the first time we’ve started to develop a Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation for engineers at the company and battalion levels.”
During the exercise, the 1st Mar. Div. commanding general and the division sergeant major visited Camp Roberts to observe the training, the Marines and the unit as a whole.
“I’m very impressed with the company that’s up here,” said Sgt. Maj. William Sowers, the 1st Mar. Div. sergeant major. “I can tell that the discipline is there inside this unit and that they really enjoy what they do.”
The combat engineers are an integral part of America’s Expeditionary Force in Readiness. Challenging training events like Pioneer Express ensure that Marines remain organized, equipped and ready to be effective in increasingly complex environments around the world.