194th Engineer Brigade completes another successful year at Resolute Castle
Story by Staff Sgt. Micah VanDyke
24th Press Camp Headquarters
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For many years to come, Eastern European countries will have vastly improved training ranges at military bases throughout the region. This stems from the ongoing U.S. military construction effort, Resolute Castle.
This year the 194th Engineer Brigade, Tennessee National Guard and members of the Alabama National Guard led combined effort construction operations spread across Estonia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. More than $13 million dollars were spent on construction improvements to military training areas there.
Working with the Tennessee and Alabama National Guard were elements from the Tennessee Air National Guard, Ohio Army National Guard, Mississippi Army National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, active duty soldiers, and U.S. Navy Seabees.
All of the units rotated service members, throughout the summer, into the operation seamlessly and provided U.S. Army Europe the engineers needed for Resolute Castle. There were even troop rotations conducted by Romania after they witnessed the effectiveness of the method the U.S. units used for rotations last year.
"Last year Romania had the same engineers on ground the whole time. After they saw how we rotated through last year, they changed their operation this year," said Col. Robey "Doug" Brantley, a military engineer with the Tennessee Army National Guard, the officer-in-charge of the operation. "Every time our Soldiers rotated this year they rotated troops in. More of the Romanians were able to work with us by following our procedures."
Brantley said early on, in the first few rotations of U.S. and allied engineers, weather caused major delays creating possible setbacks in meeting the construction timelines, and having the right mix of troops with appropriate skills available.
National Guard soldiers come to the fight with a variety of skills from their civilian life.
"That gives us our ability to see if we have any civilian expertise that we can plug in to some spots that we may be short handed in," he added.
The intent per Lt. Gen.Hodges was to have at least two non-standard live-fire maneuver lanes, said Brantley.
"We met his intent by completing two and we've gone above his intent to fulfill part of the other two that we knew we couldn't finish," he explained.
Brantley added that Lt. Gen. Hodges said 'if you put one piece of equipment on the ground and do anything that improved from what was there before – I consider that a success'.
Though another year of Operation Resolute Castle has been completed the NATO and USAREUR commitment to this operation is far from complete.
"We participated in Resolute Castle 2015 and 2016, the way forward based on interacting with USAREUR is a continuation of what's been done – to continue to look forward with improving facilities, range roads and training areas spread throughout the USAREUR area of operations," said Brantley. "Some of the locations we worked this year will not be worked next year."
"That's good because that's showing other NATO partners that we want to do things in their areas to improve training as well," Brantley concluded.