Engineers Get Their Own

By Lawson, Rhonda M. | Soldiers Magazine, July 2003 | Go to article overview

Engineers Get Their Own


Lawson, Rhonda M., Soldiers Magazine


IT'S not unusual to see an engineer element accompany an infantry element on a mission. It's evident in the mountains of Afghanistan, for example, where engineers clear land mines and destroy weapons caches.

Now, the 18th Engineer Company of the Fort Lewis, Wash.-based 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, is working to improve the engineers' ability to support the infantry mission. The first step toward that objective was for the engineers to trade in their old tactical vehicles for new Stryker engineer squad vehicles.

"This has made it so much easier to keep up with the infantry," said 1LT Christopher Evans, an 18th Engr. Co. platoon leader. "This puts us right in the fight. Without the ESV the brigade wouldn't be able to use us."

Evans said that the ESV, one of eight proposed Stryker variants, has the same power as the Stryker infantry carrier vehicle, making it easier for engineers to negotiate rough terrain. The unit's older vehicle made keeping up with the infantry a challenge.

"That hindered the mission," said SSG Clifford Beattie, a 3rd Bde. rifle-squad leader. "They couldn't see through the dust. But now, they can negotiate the same terrain we can."

Aside from power, the ESV shares other similarities with its Stryker brethren. Like other Strykers, it's equipped with two Javelin missiles and a .50-caliber remote weapon station that allows the gunner to fire from inside the vehicle. It also comes equipped with a video camera, allowing the driver to see what's going on outside the vehicle. Additionally, the squad leader has a touch-screen display that allows him to see what both the gunner and driver see.

"I think this was built by a driver, for a driver," said SPC Tim Walterscheid, a gunner with 2nd Platoon. "Three people can essentially do a mission."

The ESV also makes it easier to fire the unit's main tool, the Mine Clearing Line Charge. This device contains nearly 2,000 pounds of C4 explosive, which is shot out 100 yards ahead of the vehicle to clear a 14-meter-wide area of mines. Once the MCLC is fired, an ESV with an attached mine plow goes through the area, making sure all mines are cleared. …

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