CINCU, Romania - For Spc. Alvin Stevens, building targets at a tank range in Romania is a far cry from his previous assignment to Kandahar, Afghanistan. "There's a lot more green, and the shepherds here aren't making phone calls to the Taliban."
Stevens of Bonneau, S.C., is currently at Joint National Training Center in Cincu, Romania, serving with the 1223rd Engineer Company, 178th Engineer Battalion, South Carolina Army National Guard.
He is a carpentry and masonry specialist whose unit was tasked with completing a moving target system for a tank range. Stevens used his skills as an equipment operator and jumped into the nearest Skidsteer to help load rock into the Gabion baskets that will protect the targetry.
"Digging rocks is better than building," he said, before turning to pour rocks from the loader bucket. "I love getting to work with heavy equipment."
In his four years in the Army Reserve, Stevens has traveled to Afghanistan, Oman, and Romania. In Afghanistan, his unit deconstructed a forward operating base. "They handed us a bunch of sledgehammers and told us to get to work." In Oman, they spent two weeks building an urban operations course out of shipping containers.
In Romania, his unit is part of Resolute Castle 17, a multi-national NATO project building an armor live-fire range, a sniper range, and a demolitions range. Besides building infrastructure, Stevens emphasizes the importance of working together with the NATO allies: "We did a lot of welding with them when it came time to put up the range towers."
With a father in the Marines, a grandfather in the National Guard, and uncles across the services, Stevens is used to military life but enjoys also being a car salesman for Stokes Honda in North Charleston, S.C. "In selling a car, there are always steps. In the military, too, it's organized, and you have to follow the process. But there are opportunities in that."