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Feature Stories

NEWS | June 30, 2020

Spartan Engineers Train to Clear Obstacles on the Battlefield

By Story by Sgt. Andrew Valenza Task Force Spartan

Operating breach vehicles with a hundred meters of C4 explosive is a rare opportunity in the world of engineers.

Spartan Soldiers assigned to the North Carolina Army National Guard, 236th Brigade Engineer Battalion conducted breach training with an M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicle, equipped with a Mine Clearing Line Charge in the CENTCOM area of responsibility.

The MICLIC is a rocket-propelled charge of C4 explosives, 100 meters long, used to breach and clear obstacles.

Maj. Scott Day, the operations officer for the 236th, described the capabilities of the vehicle.

"Its main capabilities are, it can do all the functions of the breach; reduce, proof and mark," said Day. "There is a reduction asset; it has a MICLIC. It's pretty much just a firehose of C4… the main use for it is to explode any obstacle or enemy mines, or things like that."

For the Soldiers, seeing a MICLIC in operation is a rare experience.

"To fire a live line charge is something that doesn't happen every day," said Day. "So, this is quite an opportunity for the Soldiers. We have the ability to fire inert lines but being out in the field isn't common."

Spc. David Martin, a vehicle commander in the 236th, operated the vehicle during the exercise.

According to Martin, the feeling of being up close to the blast is not what one would expect.

"It's really not as powerful of an impact as being outside," said Martin. "You don't really get the feel of the explosion as you would expect to with that much C4 going off."

Although Martin expected something a little different, he wouldn't have it any other way.

"I love my job; it's fun," said Martin. "We had the opportunity to make
a huge impact on the entire unit. It's fantastic to know that all eyes are on you."

Martin expressed gratitude toward his teammates for making the training work effectively.

"This mission wouldn't be possible without my hermit team, or my driver, getting me in the right position to fire," said Martin.

According to Day, exercises like this are the main objectives of engineer units.

"The breach is one of the main capabilities of the Engineer," said Day. "It's what the engineers are expected to do."

Overall, Day was proud of the work his Soldiers have done.

"The Soldiers have done outstanding," said Day. "This isn't the first time they've done this. To execute an event like this, this has taken months of planning…so today is really the final culminating event and execution."

The Soldiers of the Engineer Battalion fall under the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team also from the North Carolina Army National Guard.

For the deployment the battalion and the brigade fall under Task Force Spartan which is currently being led by the New York Army National Guard’s 42nd Infantry Division.

The mission is a unique, multi-component organization, made up of active Army and National Guard units, rounded out by U.S. Army Reserve support units.

Through Operation Spartan Shield (OSS), Task Force Spartan maintains a U.S. military posture in Southwest Asia sufficient to strengthen our defense relationships and build partner capacity.