By Capt. Cortland Henderson
Special to GUIDON
Throughout my tenure in the Army, I have had countless Soldiers ask me to define the term Sapper.
My answer is that what makes a Sapper is not so cut and dry.
For those who have attended the demanding Sapper Leader Course, they may think of the first two lines of the Sapper Creed: I am a Sapper. The cutting edge of my country’s sword.
But what does that mean?
Traditionally, a Sapper is a combat engineer — someone who breaches fortifications, works with demolitions, builds bridges and lays and clears minefields. However, my definition usually revolves around the idea that a Sapper is the Swiss Army Knife of the military.
Many times, other engineer military occupational specialties are called upon to fill in for combat engineers. While it is important to have a combat engineer base of knowledge, Sappers are called upon because they are critical thinkers and problem solvers — they’re constantly looking for unique solutions to complex scenarios.
In other words, a Sapper contributes by bringing engineering expertise to the fight.
Taking the role of a Sapper one step further is the Sapper Leader — a graduate of SLC who must know aspects of several different Army schools.
Non-engineers can become Sapper Leaders, and for good reason. The more team members who understand what a Sapper brings to the fight, the easier it is to bridge the gap — pun intended — between engineers and their maneuver counterparts. Strengths are best used when everyone can speak the same language and understands each other’s roles on the multi-domain battlefield.
(Editor’s note: Henderson is with the 554th Engineer Battalion. He graduated from SLC in 2015.)