Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | July 7, 2017

643rd 'Wolfpack' Engineers Go to the Range but Build Instead of Shoot

By 1st Lt. Katelyn N. Radack 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea -- Nearly every unit in Korea spends time at the Multi-purpose Range Complex. While for most units that time means qualifying on their weapons, for the Vertical Platoon of the 643rd Engineer Support Company their two weeks at the range meant construction.

Recently reassigned to Korea as part of Task Force War Horse, 602nd Air Support Battalion, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, the "Wolfpack" engineer company has the only vertical engineering platoon on the peninsula and is already making a big impact.

During their deployment to the range complex from May 17-31, the 37 Soldiers and one Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army built two South East Asia (SEA) Huts--stilt-raised single-room structures that serve as warming or cooling stations in extreme weather conditions--replaced two decades-old wooden grenade bunkers on Arapaho Range with more-durable concrete models and erected a guard station at the entrance to Warrior Valley as part of a range improvement initiative.

Besides helping range operations update and improve their facilities, the platoon also built 20 Czech Hedgehogs--spiked obstacles used to deter vehicle entry--and inert improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to help 1-5 Infantry Battalion, 25th Infantry Division's breaching and demolitions training.

As a vertical construction platoon, the skills needed to erect these structures are mission essential tasks for the Soldiers specializing as plumbers, electricians, and masons and carpenters. These skills include: construction of wood-frame structures, and installation of electrical utilities for the SEA Huts; construction of concrete structures such as the grenade bunkers; and project management, a skill underlying the entire period of operations.

Platoon Leader 1st Lt. Michael Burkeen and Platoon Sergeant Sgt. 1st Class Mark Lake's ambitious build schedule spread the platoon among four construction sites over the two weeks of operations, with as many as three sites active on any day. The platoon relied on their three sergeant squad leaders to provide effective independent project management at each site.

"They chose the team leaders to each project based on their experience in similar projects, like cement, or wood-frame construction," said Spc. Daniel Clemen, a carpenter. "Everyone had a hand in each of the sites though…it was nice to have a mission that brought everyone together to do good construction that was going to be meaningful to the Rodriguez Range complex."

This was the largest-scale mission for the platoon since arriving in Korea. The range of projects gave Soldiers a chance to brush up on their skills.

"I really enjoyed building the stairs for each of the SEA Huts. It requires a certain type of math that I haven't done since I graduated from AIT. It was nice to get a refresher," Clemen said. "I really had to sit down and rethink it, and recalculate my equations to overcome different obstacles since each house was a different height, so required a unique set of math."

Burkeen and Lake also challenged their platoon to rise to the battle-ready standards of the Korean theatre. The Soldiers conducted operations in the warrior standard for the first week to train and test their stamina, and build resilience to execute operations in a simulated hostile environment.

"It really does slow operations when Soldiers are weighted down by their full kit," reflects Burkeen on the decision, estimating a two-day difference in construction time between constructing the SEA Hut with and without the heavy protective equipment.

"It really helped our Soldiers with the familiarization to their equipment and…was part of our troop leading procedures to build readiness in regards to the fight tonight standard."

The engineers' operations involved two key collaborations with a fellow U.S. unit and with local Korean partners.

Conducting demolition and clearance operations with the engineer's obstacles added 'train like we fight'- realism to the 1-5 infantrymen's mission and allowed the vertical engineers the opportunity to cross train on skills more common to their combat engineer brothers.

Constructing the concrete grenade bunkers involved a close collaboration with local Korean suppliers to resource and pour the cement.

Burkeen said that by the time his Engineers finished their projects they provided 1,312.5 man hours of labor and used 290 pounds of nails, 1,539 boards of lumber and 454 sheets of plywood.

"This was a great opportunity for our Soldiers to train on tasks that can be difficult or costly at times to set up," he said. "This is a legacy of our time in Korea and we're proud that we could provide newer, safer training facilities for many years to come."
CONNECT WITH USINDOPACOM
Facebook

Like Us
Twitter
307,984
Follow Us

ENGAGE & CONNECT MORE WITH PACOM

                                                 

IN THE USINDOPACOM NEWS
Master the Jungle: Counter Insurgency in Nepal
In this file photo, a 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) Officer and his classmates learn route clearance operations by the Counter Insurgency Jungle Warfare instructor in Nepal, Oct. 27, 2021. The course allowed an opportunity to learn and share tactics with the Nepal Army while learning how to survive in a jungle environment.
Jan. 28, 2022 - NEPAL -- The legendary jungles of Nepal are known for their treacherous terrain and the nuanced socioeconomic dynamics that are nestled along its dense boundaries. Nepal Army Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare Course...

U.S, Philippine Forces Kick Off Marine Exercise 22
Representatives from the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, including U.S. military personnel, joined PMC Commandant Maj. Gen. Ariel Caculitan and Commander Combat Service Support Brigade Brig. Gen. Ruben B. Candelario in front of a Small Unit Riverine Craft boat inside the newly constructed boat repair and maintenance facility at Naval Station Rio Hondo in Zamboanga City.   U.S. Military Turns Over Boat Facility in Zamboanga
Jan. 28, 2022 - MANILA, U.S. Embassy in the Philippines -- The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps began training with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Jan. 27, as part of Marine Exercise (MAREX) 2022 to further the maritime security capabilities...

USS Ronald Reagan, U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka Sailors Administer COVID-19 Boosters to American, Japanese Base Employees
220128-N-SI601-1070 YOKOSUKA, Japan (Jan. 28, 2022) Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Andrew Quigley, from Wichita, Kansas, assigned to the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), administers a COVID-19 vaccination booster to a Japanese base employee on Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka. Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the United States, and supports alliances, partnerships and collective maritime interests in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Daniel G. Providakes)
Jan. 28, 2022 - YOKOSUKA, Japan -- Sailors from the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) worked side-by-side with their counterparts from U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka (USNHY) onboard Commander, Fleet...

Readout of Assistant Secretary of Defense Ely Ratner's Call with Mongolia Vice Minister of Defense Bayarmagnai
Jan. 28, 2022 - WASHINGTON -- Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, Dr. Ely Ratner, held a telephone call with his Mongolian counterpart, Vice Minister of Defense B. Bayarmagnai to commemorate the 35th anniversary...

U.S. and Thailand Inaugurate Elite Border Patrol Police Training Facility
U.S. and Thailand Inaugurate Elite Border Patrol Police Training Facility.
Jan. 28, 2022 - U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Thailand -- U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Michael Heath and Police Major General Varayuth Sukhawat, Border Patrol Police (BPP) Deputy Commissioner, Royal Thai Police, presided over the unveiling...