Army Engineers and friends of the regiment came together April 16 through 20 for Engineer Regimental Week at Fort Leonard Wood.
They met with the purpose of “Preparing Today’s Engineers for Tomorrow,” through events, including the Best Sapper Competition, the Engineer Spouse’s Day, the Army Engineer Association Vendor Exhibition, a Fallen Sapper Tribute Ceremony, the Senior Engineer Leader Council, the Engineer Regimental Run, and the Engineer Regimental Ball and Awards Ceremony.
“This is an exciting week that the Engineer School put together,” said Maj. Gen. Kent Savre, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, during his opening remarks of the SELC April 19. “It is really an impressive series of events to celebrate the history of this regiment, to showcase our capabilities and plan for the future.”
The Chief of Staff of the Army, along with the Training and Doctrine Command commander and senior leaders from across the Army continue to emphasize the complexity of future combat and the challenges Soldiers are going to face, Savre said.
“What you’ve really seen in the OPTEMPO and mission, and witnessed in the last few years, is our alignment with the Chief of Staff of the Army and the Secretary of the Army’s priorities,” Savre added. “Those priorities are to continue to focus on readiness, to take care of Soldiers and families, and to put more emphasis on modernizing for the future.”
“The bottom line is the future business of the Engineer Regiment is good, and we’re certainly up to the task,” Savre said.
Brig. Gen. Robert Whittle Jr., U.S. Army Engineer School commandant, emphasized two main goals for the regiment: that the Engineer Regiment is ready and relevant for the current and future fight; and to increase and improve communication within the regiment across the Army.
“You are all the architects of the future of the Engineer Regiment,” Whittle said during the SELC. “Things are changing fast, and if we don’t get ahead of it, somebody else will.”
Whittle added that throughout history, from the time the Corps of Engineers began, America has relied on engineers, and engineers have proven themselves to be up to the task. He encouraged members of the regiment to “take a seat at the table,” and leverage the engineer network.
“We have an incredible network,” he said. “We’ve all got to talk to each other to advance the regiment.”
Whittle outlined the regiment’s near- and long-term modernization efforts and instilled the value of going forward with a “team of teams” philosophy.
Also during the Senior Engineer Leader Council, the 54th Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the Corps of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, who advises the Army on engineering matters, brought perspective to the breadth and depth of the Corps of Engineers. He shared his vision for the way ahead along with how our leaders are preparing today’s Soldiers to be leaders of tomorrow.
“(There are) 90,000 in the total force,” Semonite said. “We’ve seen a lot of growth in the last year, and where we’ve impacted our Soldiers, our service members and our families.”
“It’s been a demanding year on us for all of the natural disasters,” he added. “There was a lot of work by the corps in Texas with (Hurricane) Harvey, and we’ve seen Irma hit the Virgin Islands and Florida, and then Maria, which had a devastating impact in Puerto Rico. Our Corps of Engineer team stepped up in all four of those events, and we continue to be able to take care of our people.”
Semonite encouraged Soldiers to learn all they can about engineering in order to build a world-class Regiment.
As part of the modernization focus, the Army Engineer Association hosted its annual vendor exhibition April 17 through 18, which featured products such as bridging, robotics, counter-IED equipment, mine plows and rollers, and new engineer vehicles.
“Displays have been outstanding,” said Command Sgt. Major Julius Nutter, retired, who has coordinated the event for the last 15 years. “This is probably one of our best exhibits that we’ve had since we’ve been doing this on Fort Leonard Wood.”
More than 90 spouses came out for the Engineer Spouse’s Day event April 17, to participate in engineering-related activities. (See spouse story on page A1.)
The regiment took a moment of silence during the Fallen Sapper Tribute Ceremony April 19 at Sapper Memorial Grove to honor Gold Star Families and remember fallen Sappers and comrades who paid the ultimate sacrifice in past and current military operations.
“It is an unfortunate truth that the defense of our nation comes with the very real risk that Soldiers may be asked to give the last full measure in service to protect our way of life, our freedoms and all of the loved ones whom we hold dear,” Whittle said. “Today we lay this wreath as a tribute to them and as a reminder that these heroes and their families will forever be in our hearts.”
“Freedom is not and never will be free,” he said.
More than 6,000 members of the regiment and family members came out for the Engineer Run on Friday morning.
The regiment closed their homecoming at the Engineer Regimental Ball and Awards Ceremony at Nutter Field House Friday.