Sapper Eagles of 326th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, conducted a divisionwide Urban Mobility Breaching Course that began June 13 and continues through Friday.
The training is an advanced information course on urban breaching operations. Soldiers received training on procedures like explosive theory, operational and training safety, urban reconnaissance, and various breaching techniques that encompass explosive, manual and ballistic materials.
“UMBC is designed to reinforce and create proficient urban breachers of all units to ideally show the assets and capabilities that a commander has at their disposal,” said 1st Lt. Ryan Jesse, the officer in charge of the UMBC training.
The course provided Soldiers the advanced knowledge on breaching techniques by giving them the tools necessary to later help their units use more than the basic detonation cord and C4 plastic explosive during breaches.
Sergeant 1st Class Lee Highsmith, A Co., 326th BEB, said the training was a team effort with the support of engineers from the 35th Engineer Battalion, 1st Engineer Brigade from Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
“The main focus is to make sure the division’s infantry and cavalry scout Soldiers are savvy in urban breaching,” said Staff Sgt. Chris Dupertuis, a Fort Leonard Wood instructor. “Most of the course is common knowledge for combat engineers and is an add-on to what they already know. The main idea behind us coming out here is to not only help the combat engineers, but also help other combat arms Soldiers.”
A unique part of the UMBC provides students with the opportunity to create their own charges based off of hands-on practice and specified supplies.
“Hands-on experience helps all Soldiers learn in real time versus in the classroom; making it easier to learn, as well as learn from your mistakes,” said Sgt. Ricardo Tuscano, a Soldier with B Co., 326th BEB. “It is more effective for us to learn outside of a classroom environment. It engages us in a more effective manner.”
The intent behind this hands-on concept is to allow students to learn based off of a controlled trial and error lesson plan. The UMBC instructors gives students the opportunity to practice hands-on in a monitored environment. This encourages the participants to be adaptive with specified equipment, pushing Soldiers to be creative and intuitive in their charge calculations and placement.
“This course allows breachers to be effective in regards to time on target, violence of action and to be major league door kickers,” Dupertuis said. “Their knowledge provides their leadership with skill sets that allow proper training in terms of getting to their targets on time and with minimal collateral damage as well.”
During their explosive and ballistic door breaching, Soldiers were able to be creative with what they felt was appropriate to open or destroy a locked door, as well as learn the proper ways of destroying door components with a breaching shot gun.
A thorough analysis of every door after each blast allowed Soldiers to see the pros and cons of each charge and shot, as well as offering the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
“It is important to teach Soldiers about UMBC because it diversifies Soldiers across all [job types] to be quick and expedient to breach obstacles,” Tuscano said.
Soldiers were tested through a culminating two-day field exercise to complete the two-week training course.
“I hope they take their knowledge and pass it down to their Soldiers back at their line platoons,” Dupertuis said. “Later on in their careers, the safety aspect to this course is most important; knowing how to calculate for your charges, as well as knowing the minimum safe distance for certain charges. This [training] will allow them to utilize their skills safely and properly.”