AUGUST 14, 2017, CINCU, Romania – In the final weeks of Resolute Castle 17, engineers have been diligently exercising their skills at the Joint National Training Center (JNTC) in an effort to develop a premier training area, where multi-national, multi-component Soldiers will hone their skills for years to come.
“Soldiers from an array of different backgrounds, nationalities, service components, and career paths have unified under the banner of Resolute Castle 17 for a common cause.” Cpt. Darin Larson, Project OIC at the JNTC, Romania, said. “Protecting and solidifying the values and objectives of the NATO Alliance is central to that cause.”
The 926th Engineer Brigade (U.S. Army Reserve), South Carolina National Guard, U.S. Navy Seabees, U.K. Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers, and Romanian Land Forces have been working in conjunction to complete a series of engineering projects at the Joint National Training Center, Cincu, Romania.
Such projects at the JNTC include a Non-Standard Live Fire Range, where tanks can bolster their skills in engaging a moving target, two Moving Armored Target Systems, at which tanks fire rounds for practice, an ammo loading dock, two Operations and Storage Buildings, an Urban Breach Facility, and a Sniper Tower. Additionally, as participants in Resolute Castle 17, the 15th Engineer Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, an active duty U.S. Army contingent, successfully completed a Moving Armored Target System and a KSpan Building in Poland with oversight and direction from the 926th Engineer Brigade during the months of April, May, and June.
“The formulation of designs and plans for the JNTC’s projects began in late 2016, and the realization of said plans can be seen in our constructed projects today,” said 1st Lt. Cameron Johnson, 841st Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade. 1st Lt. Johnson has fulfilled the role of engineer plans officer, responsible for the creation of each project’s designs and specifications.
The Non-Standard Live Fire Range has been constructed since the beginning of Resolute Castle construction operations in April of 2017. It consists of five lanes, adjoined at the top and bottom by two lanes which run perpendicular. In ten deliberately designed locations, tanks mount what are known as Battle Positions, from which they fire rounds at Moving Armored Target Systems, 2000 and 1800 meters away.
“To construct approximately 10 kilometers of tanks trails and their corresponding targets has taken five months of relentless effort by our forces at the JNTC,” Spc. Mark Hathaway, a Survey and Design Soldier from the 926th Engineer Brigade, said. “Though our efforts are certainly worth it. The tank firing range will be an invaluable training asset for many years to come.”
Furthermore, the Moving Armored Target Systems have been a prodigious undertaking unto themselves. 350 meters in width and necessitating the movement of hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of earth, the design and construction of the target systems has been no small feat. The Non-Standard Live Fire Range and its accompanying Moving Armored Target System have garnered the bulk of the Engineer’s attention over the course of Resolute Castle 17, though their efforts have not been solely placed on the NSLF Range and MATS.
In fact, they have created myriad others in their limited time while conducing operations in Romania.
“The breadth and number of projects assigned for our mission were daunting, but we understand that building training infrastructure strengthens the United States’ and our partners’ ability to galvanize our forces and quickly respond when called upon in the Eastern European Region,” Sgt. Brandon Cowan, a Quality Assurance and Quality Control personnel from Black Mountain, NC, continued. “Not all of our projects are monumental undertakings, though they are all valuable in different ways.”
An Urban Breach facility, constructed through the joint efforts of Romanian, U.S. and U.K. forces, was designed and built for future Soldiers to conduct forcible entry in simulated, real-world environments.
To aid in the preparation of tanks and their crews train on the Non-Standard Live Fire Range, engineers of RC17 constructed an ammo loading dock, Operations and Storage Building and a Multi-Purpose Covered Shelter all within a 100-meter proximity of each other.
Ammo loading docks enables tank crews to quickly load rounds into a tank’s weapon system. An operations and Storage Building provides a shelter in which vital supplies are stored for preparation of tanks entering the firing range. And lastly, a Multi-Purpose Covered Shelter provides an area in which troops shelter themselves from the elements while awaiting their training opportunity on a nearby range.
The final project, which engineers of Resolute Castle 17 have created, is a sniper tower. Romanian, U.K. and U.S. troop labor constructed the training asset which will serve troops by allowing them to practice in engaging enemies from up to a mile away.
Currently, Resolute Castle 17 finds itself in the seventh of eight engineering rotations. Though Soldiers of the United Kingdom’s Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers and the U.S. Navy Seabees concluded their operations at the JNTC, the 926th Engineer Brigade, South Carolina National Guard and Romanian Land Forces continue their combined effort in accomplishing the remaining tasks necessary for the completion of their engineering projects.
Resolute Castle began in 2015 as an operation commissioned under the European Reassurance Initiative. In June 2014, President Obama instituted the ERI in order to increase U.S. force presence in Europe, expand exercises and training with NATO Allies and partners, and augment prepositioned equipment for use in joint exercises.
For the third year anniversary of Resolute Castle’s commencement, a multi-national, multi-component, military force, comprised of approximately 2,300 Soldiers, unified for the sake of the mission under the purview of the 926th Engineer Brigade. After five months of persistent, concerted efforts, the mission nears its conclusion.
“The sun is setting for Resolute Castle, but there is still daylight yet. We plan to exhaust every ray of light available to us in order to complete our mission,” said Cpt. Patrick Winkels of the 926th Engineer Brigade, who has been responsible for ensuring all necessary materials are ordered and delivered for construction of projects.
Engineers of Resolute Castle 17 will conclude their construction operations in September, and planners of the operation will set their focus on next year’s exciting iteration.
By 1st Lt. Louis Stevens