By Marti Yoshida
Public Affairs Office
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (April 26, 2018) — Army Engineers and friends of the regiment came together April 16-20 for Engineer Regimental Week at Fort Leonard Wood.
They met with the purpose of “Preparing Today’s Engineers for Tomorrow,” through events including the Best Sapper Competition, the Engineer Spouse’s Day, the Army Engineer Association Vendor Exhibition, a Fallen Sapper Tribute Ceremony, the Senior Engineer Leader Council, or SELC, the Engineer Regimental Run and the Engineer Regimental Ball and Awards Ceremony.
“This is an exciting week that the Engineer School put together,” Maj. Gen. Kent Savre, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, said during his opening remarks of the SELC April 19. “It is really an impressive series of events to celebrate the history of this regiment, to showcase our capabilities and plan for the future.”
The Chief of Staff of the Army, along with the Training and Doctrine Commander and senior leaders from across the Army continue to emphasize the complexity of future combat and the challenges we are going to face, Savre said.
“What you’ve really seen in the OPTEMPO and mission, and witnessed in the last few years, is our alignment with the Chief of Staff of the Army and the Secretary of the Army’s priorities,” Savre added. “Those priorities are to continue to focus on readiness, to take care of Soldiers and families, and to put more emphasis on modernizing for the future.”
Savre explained that sustaining operations in the Middle East for more than 16 years, the longest war in our nation’s history, and still having the capability to conduct operations around the globe, is something the Army “should be incredibly proud of, but it comes at a cost in our resources and intellectual focus.”
“The bottom line is the future business of the Engineer Regiment is good and we’re certainly up to the task,” Savre said. “We have an incredible reputation as problem solvers and really hard workers, always focused on enabling the maneuver commander to accomplish the mission. We need your help and input to think through how the Engineer Regiment will continue to take it to the next level and continue to figure out solutions to our most complex challenges.”
Brig. Gen. Robert Whittle Jr., U.S. Army Engineer School Commandant emphasized two main goals for the regiment: that the Engineer Regiment is ready and relevant for the current and future fight; and to increase and improve communication within the regiment across the Army.
“You are all the architects of the future of the Engineer Regiment,” Whittle said during the SELC. “Things are changing fast and if we don’t get ahead of it, somebody else will.”
Whittle said, that throughout history, from the time the Corps of Engineers began, America has relied on engineers and engineers have proven themselves to be up to the task. He encouraged members of the regiment to “take a seat at the table,” and leverage the engineer network.
“We have an incredible network,” he said. “We’ve all got to talk to each other to advance the regiment.”
Whittle outlined the regiment’s near and long term modernization efforts and instilled the value of going forward with a “team of teams” philosophy.
Also during the Senior Engineer Leader Council, the 54th Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the Corps of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, who advises the Army on engineering matters, brought perspective to the breadth and depth of the Corps of Engineers. He shared his vision for the way ahead along with how our leaders are preparing today’s Soldiers to be leaders of tomorrow.
“(There are) 90,000 in the total force,” Semonite said. “We’ve seen a lot of growth in the last year, and where we’ve impacted our Soldiers, our service members and our families.”
“It’s been a demanding year on us for all of the natural disasters,” he added. “There was a lot of work by the Corps in Texas with (Hurricane) Harvey and we’ve seen Irma hit the Virgin Islands and Florida, and then Maria, which had a devastating impact in Puerto Rico. Our Corps of Engineer team stepped up in all four of those events, and we continue to be able to take care of our people.”
Semonite encouraged Soldiers to learn all they can about engineering in order to build a World Class Regiment.
As part of the modernization focus, the Army Engineer Association hosted its annual Vendor Exhibition April 17-18, which featured products such as bridging, robotics, counter-IED equipment, mine plows and rollers, and new engineer vehicles.
“Displays have been outstanding,” said Command Sgt. Major Julius Nutter, retired, who has coordinated for the event for the last 15 years. “This is probably one of our second best exhibits that we’ve had since we’ve been doing this on Fort Leonard Wood.”
Pvt. Benjamin Fleischmann, Company A, 554th Engineer Battalion, got to test drive a heavy equipment simulator at the exhibits.
“I was impressed by how well it reacted,” Fleischmann said. “Simulators are effective and let us spend more time in the operating seat, which will turn out better operators.”
More than 90 spouses came out for the Engineer Spouse’s Day event April 17, to participate in engineering-related activities.
“We want to make sure we expose our families to everything we do in the Engineer Regiment,” Whittle said. “When they understand what their Soldiers are doing, we benefit from their involvement and support.”
The regiment took a moment of silence during the Fallen Sapper Tribute Ceremony April 19 at Sapper Memorial Grove to honor Gold Star Families and remember fallen Sappers and comrades who paid the ultimate sacrifice in past and current military operations.
“It is an unfortunate truth that the defense of our nation comes with the very real risk that Soldiers may be asked to give the last full measure in service to protect our way of life, our freedoms and all of the loved ones whom we hold dear,” Whittle said. “Today we lay this wreath as a tribute to them and as a reminder that these heroes and their families will forever be in our hearts.”
“Freedom is not and never will be free,” he said.
More than 6,000 members of the regiment and family members came out for the Engineer Run Friday morning on Gammon Field.
The regiment closed their homecoming at the Engineer Regimental Ball and Awards Ceremony at Nutter Field House Friday.