First Lt. Glenn Cameron
The 7th Engineer Battalion has developed an internal pre-Sapper training program to help prepare Soldiers in the battalion for the Sapper Leader’s Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
The Sapper Leader’s Course is a fast-paced, 28-day course that trains engineer leaders in small unit tactics, leadership skills and warfighter tactics required to perform as a member of a combined-arms team in a contemporary operating environment.
The program prepares Soldiers physically and academically for the rigors of the course. Capt. Gavin Ellman, an engineer officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, developed the program upon his return from Sapper school to help better prepare 7th Engineer Soldiers for the course.
There are 30 hours of academic instruction spread throughout a four-week training program that was developed to help ensure the highest pass rate possible at the course. First Lt. Michael Pierri, an engineer officer assigned to HHC, is the lead instructor of the program. He was the first Soldier to go through the program and pass the Sapper Leader’s Course afterward.
Pierri said he feels that the program is vital for Soldiers who will attend the course.
In the train-up program, Soldiers learn about demolitions, knots and patrolling and receive general information to help ensure a successful course outcome. Soldiers also undergo water survival and land navigation training and endure long ruck marches.
“I was working on preparing myself on my own prior to the train-up, but this program has taught me things about the course I would not have otherwise found out on my own,” said Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, a training NCO assigned to 630th Route Clearance Company. “Now I feel completely prepared.”
The Soldiers are validated for attendance in the program through 16 hours of academic and physical tests. Since the program began in December, Soldiers have had a 90 percent rate of passing the course.
In the future, Soldiers will be required to pass the program before attending the Sapper Leader’s Course.
“The program prepared me for aspects of the course that most people don’t anticipate,” Pierri said. “After going through the train-up, I knew I was ready, and nothing surprised me.”
(Cameron serves with 7th Engineer Battalion)