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U.S., Romanian Engineers Build Firing Range

By Army Capt. Colin Cutler U.S. European Command

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CINCU, Romania, May 8, 2017 — Rainy weather in early May is just another obstacle to overcome for the soldiers of Resolute Castle 2017, an engineering exercise underway here and in Poland.

Army Reserve Spc. Jeffrey Nichols, with the 381st Engineer Company, bulldozes rock for a road on the nonstandard live-fire range at the Joint National Training Center in Cincu, Romania, as part of Resolute Castle 17, May 4, 2017. Resolute Castle 17 is an exercise strengthening the NATO alliance and enhancing its capacity for joint training and response. Army photo by Capt. Colin Cutler
Army Reserve Spc. Jeffrey Nichols, with the 381st Engineer Company, bulldozes rock for a road on the nonstandard live-fire range at the Joint National Training Center in Cincu, Romania, as part of Resolute Castle 17, May 4, 2017. Resolute Castle 17 is an exercise strengthening the NATO alliance and enhancing its capacity for joint training and response. Army photo by Capt. Colin Cutler
Army Reserve Spc. Jeffrey Nichols, with the 381st Engineer Company, bulldozes rock for a road on the nonstandard live-fire range at the Joint National Training Center in Cincu, Romania, as part of Resolute Castle 17, May 4, 2017. Resolute Castle 17 is an exercise strengthening the NATO alliance and enhancing its capacity for joint training and response. Army photo by Capt. Colin Cutler D7 Dozer Constructs Non-Standard Firing Lane
Army Reserve Spc. Jeffrey Nichols, with the 381st Engineer Company, bulldozes rock for a road on the nonstandard live-fire range at the Joint National Training Center in Cincu, Romania, as part of Resolute Castle 17, May 4, 2017. Resolute Castle 17 is an exercise strengthening the NATO alliance and enhancing its capacity for joint training and response. Army photo by Capt. Colin Cutler

Resolute Castle 17 is a NATO initiative designed to increase shared operational understanding between soldiers at all levels of the armed forces and reaffirm member-nations’ commitment to their mutual safety and sovereign borders.

For three weeks in Romania, soldiers with the South Carolina Army National Guard’s 124th Engineer Company and the Army Reserve’s 381st Engineer Company are working with soldiers from Romania’s 10th Engineer Brigade to build a nonstandard live-fire range at the Joint National Training Center here.

The range will have multiple lanes and fighting positions for NATO armored gunnery exercises.

Muddy Conditions

When rain turned local roads into muck that endangered the trucks hauling rock for the tank trails, the engineers built a new road, which enabled them to continue work and will prevent future delays.

To support the tanks that will eventually rumble over its roads, constructing the range requires a constant supply of rock.

“It takes 150 truckloads per working day,” said Army Capt. Darin Larson of the 926th Engineer Brigade, the officer in charge of engineering projects here.

That long line of civilian trucks ground to a halt as the rain began and their tires became stuck in the mud. The engineers laid rip-rap as a road for the trucks, but the drivers, Romanian contractors from the area, were wary of the large rocks with their sharp edges.

“They could easily pop a tire,” said Army 1st Lt. Hillman Dorn, a member of the 124th Engineer Company.

Army Reserve Spc. George Flowers, with the 381st Engineer Company, forklifts an articulated concrete mat as part of Resolute Castle 17 at Joint National Training Center, Cincu, Romania, May 4, 2017. The concrete mat is used as a foundation for roads in wet areas and low-water crossings. Army photo by Capt. Colin Cutler
Army Reserve Spc. George Flowers, with the 381st Engineer Company, forklifts an articulated concrete mat as part of Resolute Castle 17 at Joint National Training Center, Cincu, Romania, May 4, 2017. The concrete mat is used as a foundation for roads in wet areas and low-water crossings. Army photo by Capt. Colin Cutler
Army Reserve Spc. George Flowers, with the 381st Engineer Company, forklifts an articulated concrete mat as part of Resolute Castle 17 at Joint National Training Center, Cincu, Romania, May 4, 2017. The concrete mat is used as a foundation for roads in wet areas and low-water crossings. Army photo by Capt. Colin Cutler Engineers Enable Mobility and Freedom of Movement
Army Reserve Spc. George Flowers, with the 381st Engineer Company, forklifts an articulated concrete mat as part of Resolute Castle 17 at Joint National Training Center, Cincu, Romania, May 4, 2017. The concrete mat is used as a foundation for roads in wet areas and low-water crossings. Army photo by Capt. Colin Cutler

With their front-end loaders, rollers and graders, the engineers compacted dirt, laid down a finer rock to cover the rip-rap and graded the road. Eventually, the dump trucks began moving again.

Adapting to Terrain

Engineers have to adapt to the terrain as they shape it. Earlier rotations brought in a significant number of articulated concrete mats -- concrete blocks joined by a flexible material -- to support a low-water crossing. The engineers had to place the mats before they could begin laying rock for the road. Once that access was established, they began clearing and grubbing out the dirt.

“The first 8 to12 inches is bio matter and old roots that will make the road sink over time,” Dorn said. “You have to cut it out, compact the dirt, and build the road up from there."

Army Sgt. 1st Class Antonie Lott, with the 124th Engineer Company, said he has enjoyed the opportunity to participate in Resolute Castle 17.

“I like meeting new people and learning new things, and you do that here,” he said.

Lott said he sees the challenges of weather and terrain as inconvenient, but also an opportunity to adapt and train his soldiers on other skills.

“You do whatever you can as the weather permits,” he said.