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How Do You Fix Common Problems
Engineer Platoons Experience at CMTC?
Home-Station Training is the Answer

by SFC David J. Camp

Listed below are several problems that most Engineer platoons encounter in some fashion at the Combat Maneuver Training Center (CMTC). Apply the suggested techniques at Home Station and you will be in the driver's seat during your next rotation.

1. Poor integration of Engineer Platoons into Maneuver Company or Teams. Engineer Platoons attached to Armor or Mechanized Company Maneuver Teams often experience difficulties with integration. One of two things normally happens:

  • Either the Engineer Platoon Leader fails to sell his trade, or,

  • The Maneuver Commander is not receptive because he does not understand the capabilities of the attached Engineer Platoon.

This is especially obvious during the defense. Too frequently, defensive planning consumes the daylight hours. Then a handful of Sappers spend all night trying to install a large number of obstacles that far exceeds their capability.


  • Obstacle emplacement starts late.

  • OPFOR reconnaissance is deep in sector and continually harasses the Engineers with indirect fires.

  • During the movement to contact and tactical road marches, engineers are often left to bring up the rear with no tanks or Bradleys covering them.

  • During Maneuver Team Operations Orders, the Engineer Platoon Leaders seldom receive or copy and distribute all of the required graphics.


  • Form a closer relationship with the maneuver team at Home Station.

  • Conduct more Combined Arms OPDs, and NCOPDs. Small unit leaders can focus on their wartime mission.

  • Conduct a Combined Arms Sergeants' Time Training event once a month.

    • Incorporate Maneuver Platoons at Home Station.
    • Focus on critical war tasks.

2. Poor integration of Combat Medics into Engineer Platoons. Combat Medics are often attached to an Engineer Platoon just before a mission.


  • Medics do not have a clear understanding of their role.

  • Engineer Platoons do not know how to use the medics.

  • Normally the medic ends up riding in the back of the Platoon Leader's M113 as extra baggage.

  • The platoon loses confidence in the medic and accuses him of being lazy.

  • The medic gets very little training, and loses self-esteem.


  • Platoons must consider the medic as an attachment, just as a VOLCANO or ACE operator.

  • Know what your medics can do.

    • Combat medics can help prepare for battle.

    • Conduct classes for squads and combat lifesavers on the treatment of various injuries and basic lifesaving steps.

  • Medics can teach MEDEVAC procedures, check CBT lifesaver bags, and report poor hygiene and field sanitation procedures to the platoon leadership.

  • Attach the Medic for Home-Station Sergeants' Time Training. Platoon leadership should be sensitive to the fact that most medics are accustomed to working at the battalion aid station or the clinic. They may need some coaching in their role as a platoon medic.

3. Lack of confidence in the M2 .50 cal. Machine Gun. Engineer Squads display a lack of confidence in the .50-cal. mounted on squad M113s.


  • Squads frequently show up with weapons that will not fire because of malfunctioning parts.

  • Soldiers seldom understand how to operate the .50 cal. machine gun (i.e., setting the headspace and timing).

  • Squads do not conduct test fires prior to missions.

  • Squads lack range cards.

  • M113s are not positioned in Maneuver Team assembly areas to maximize the effect of the .50 cal gun.

  • Soldiers feel, "We can't kill much with it anyhow."


  • Emphasize the M2 at Home Station.

  • Stress PMIs, and PMCS.

  • Mount the M2 as a part of the vehicle's weekly PMCS. Incorporate it into the command emphasis checks.

  • The chain of command must stress that the M2 is a formidable weapon and a valuable asset.

Apply these simple techniques at Home Station. Don't wait for your next CTC rotation. You will see the improvement in your performance almost immediately.

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