842nd Engineer Co. learning ropes in AfghanistanPAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Soldiers with the 842nd Engineer Company are busy learning from the soldiers they will be replacing in Afghanistan.
By: MARK WATSON, The Black Hills Pioneer
PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Soldiers with the 842nd Engineer Company are busy learning from the soldiers they will be replacing in Afghanistan.
Marc Stacey, the company’s first sergeant, said the unit’s first couple weeks on the ground have been “absolutely crazy busy.”
The engineer unit, headquartered in Spearfish, with detachments in Belle Fourche and Sturgis, arrived in Afghanistan Nov. 8 and has since spread out to three different locations “covering most of the country.”
“I have guys up north, covering eastern Afghanistan, and preparing to move into the central part as well,” Stacey wrote.
The horizontal engineer unit is tasked with horizontal construction missions — building roads and the like.
“I honestly don’t foresee that changing anytime soon. There is enough construction work to do here for many years to come,” Stacey said.
The rumors that the unit would be tasked with route clearance missions — searching out and destroying improvised explosive devices — are not true, he said.
A day after the unit arrived in the country, a large-scale attack took place in Paktika Province in which 70 Taliban were killed.
No NATO forces were injured and the 842nd was not involved in the attack.
“Our current missions have been working side-by-side with the unit we are replacing to give us a chance to see how they have been operating and to get a feel for the land. I have another platoon out on a convoy to resupply and push materials to a (forward operating base) build up which is a right seat/left seat mission as well,” Stacey wrote. “We have done a bunch more theatre specific training as well and everyone will go to the range one more to time to zero their weapons before going outside the wire.”
One platoon is creating a bridge bypass area.
“The insurgents had blown away the bridge supports and I-beams making it impossible to safely use our big machinery,” he wrote.
“This mission reminds me very much of a few missions we performed in Iraq. Another major piece of our missions will be to train the Afghanistan army and its engineers to do horizontal construction missions.”
The unit is scheduled to be in Afghanistan for about a year.