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Idaho Guard engineers train with Reserve counterparts

By Capt. Robert Taylor | Idaho National Guard | June 14, 2018

BOISE, Idaho - Soldiers from the Idaho Army National Guard's 116th Brigade Engineer Battalion and the Army Reserve's 321st Engineer Battalion conducted a live-fire M58 Mine Clearing Line Charge (MICLIC) range Wednesday at the Orchard Combat Training Center, Boise, Idaho, in support of the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team's eXportable Combat Training Capability rotation.

While the two engineer battalions are from separate components and use different platforms to fire the MICLICs, the units' similar missions made training together seamless and beneficial to Soldiers from both units.

"Engineers are engineers," said Lt. Col. Lee Rubel, commander, 116th Brigade Engineer Battalion. "MICLIC training between National Guard and Army Reserve elements is the same. Joint training such as this is beneficial to all combat engineers because we share the wartime mission of supporting armored brigade combat teams."

Combat engineers use MICLICs to clear a path wide enough for M1A2 Abrams to pass through obstacles or minefields that are 100 meters long. A rocket propels a 100-meter cable downrange, which also carries almost 2,000 pounds of heavy explosives with it. During the training range, the units' training rounds did not include explosives.

The 116th Brigade Engineer Battalion fires the MICLIC platform off of the Assault Breacher Vehicle, which is also capable of proofing and marking a lane for maneuver forces to follow using a two-Soldier crew.

The 321st Engineer Battalion, headquartered in Boise, uses an M60 Armored Vehicle Launched Mine Clearing Line Charge (AVLM) to fire the weapon system, which is a M60 Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge (ABLV) with the bridge downloaded. Once the bridge is deployed, the weapon system is mounted to the vehicle. Additional assets must be used to clear and proof lanes.

Both weapon platforms fired simultaneously from the same firing lane after receiving cross-training on both vehicles from unit members. The use of the range was the first time the 321st Engineer Battalion fired the MICLIC from the AVLM. While the 116th Engineer Battalion has completed the range in the past, it was the first time for Sgt. Judd Gallaher, a squad leader for A Company, 116th Engineer Battalion.

"I love being able to shoot rockets, train as an engineer and make big holes then fill them later if needed," he said.

The 116th Brigade Engineer Battalion and the 321st Engineer Battalion have trained twice together previously on Gowen Field.

The 116th Brigade Engineer Battalion provides support to the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team and consists of Alpha Company, based in Mountain Home and Gooding; Bravo Company, based in Moscow, Grangeville, and Orofino; Charlie and Delta Companies, both based in Boise; and Echo Company, 145th Brigade Support Battalion, headquartered in Jerome.

The 321st Engineer Battalion consist of three mobility augmentation companies: the 391st Engineer Company (MA) from Boise, the 744th Engineer Company (MA) from Odgen, Utah, the 455th Engineer Company (MA) from Hayden, Idaho; and its Forward Support Company, also located in Boise.

Both units are participating in the 116th Calvary Brigade's XCTC rotation June 4-24 at the Orchard Combat Training Center. The training will prepare the brigade's platoons to complete a National Training Center rotation at Fort Irwin, California, in June 2019 and possible real-world missions during the unit's available year in 2020.