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Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012

Sledgehammer engineers get updated technology

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The 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, combat engineers now have the latest equipment to lead the way in a kinetic fight. As of Wednesday, the Soldiers of C Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd HBCT, have completed training and are now performing mock missions with their new vehicles.

The Assault Breacher Vehicle is a tracked, armored engineer vehicle specifically designed for conducting in-stride breaching of minefields and complex obstacles. With crew protection and high vehicle survivability, the ABV still has the speed and mobility to keep pace with the maneuver force.

The ABV has been used with great success by Marines since 2009; now C Company is the first deployable Army unit to receive the ABV.

Based on the M1 main battle tank chassis, the ABV incorporates a number of subsystems, including a full-width mine plow, dual line charges, lane marking system, remote control system, and protective weapon system, all working together to rapidly breach minefields and complex obstacles in order to clear a safe passage for friendly forces.

Along with the ABV’s breaching capabilities, the new equipment is a leap forward for Soldier safety.

“It provides better protection than the vehicles we have been using,” said Lt. Col. Steven George, commander, BSTB, 3rd HBCT. “In addition, it reduces the number of vehicles needed at the point of breach.”

For combat engineers of the Sledgehammer Brigade, being the first deployable Army unit to get the latest tech is a source of pride.

“It says a lot about the Army’s confidence in this unit and these Soldiers,” said Sgt. David Johnsey, C Company, BSTB. “It is a great opportunity for us to show our capabilities as combat engineers.”

While training at Fort Benning, the crews from C Company are using training line charges, but at the 3rd Brigade’s upcoming rotation to the National Training Center, the engineers will test the full power of the ABV system.

“As a combat-ready vehicle, the ABV carries a mine-clearing line charge, which is 1,750 pounds of C-4 explosive, which is laid on the path to be cleared via rocket,” Johnsey said. “At NTC, we will have the opportunity use all of the ABV’s systems, including the line charge.”

The training is key for the engineers as they learn the system and become ready to fight in a combat situation.

“We gained full confidence in our vehicle and our equipment,” said Sgt. Jeremy Griffin, C Company, BSTB. “We know when we are out on the battlefield we will be safe and it will work when we need it to work.”

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