The squad, along with its two fire teams, is the Army’s smallest — but most important — unit.
The importance comes in because the squad has to implement the orders that come from higher command. To verify effectiveness and cohesiveness of its engineers at the squad level, the 92nd Engineer “Black Diamonds” Battalion completed a four-day exercise called “Diamond Forge” this week.
The squad-evaluation exercise began with air mobile operations to Fort Stewart’s Taro Landing Zone via Black Hawk helicopters at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, or as soldiers would say, at “Oh-dark-30.”
During the next 36 hours, their individual skills were evaluated through a physical-fitness test, weapons qualification and both day and night land-navigation tests.
Then their unit training level and cohesiveness were evaluated at the construction lane set up to test their specific engineering skills; a riot-control station; gladiator’s challenge; react to contact; and a leader’s reaction course.
“Senior (noncommissioned officers) and officers did the grading during the evaluation, since the training was for squad leaders and below,” said Capt. Krystal Stoinoff, an engineering officer and the battalion’s safety officer. “Platoon sergeants and platoon leaders were not allowed to evaluate their own platoons. To ensure the competition was done fairly, the battalion command and command sergeant major (Lt. Col. Kenneth Boggs and Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew Lanning) personally walked each of the lanes.”
Stoinoff said the seven-to-10-man squads could earn up to 100 points for each multi-tasks event.
The leader’s reaction course began with the squad being issued a duffle bag filled with five weapons at various stages of disassembly.
This timed sub-task required squad members to properly reassemble each weapon, including an M9 pistol, M16 and M4 assault rifles, M249 squad automatic weapon and M240 machinegun.
Other sub-tasks within this lane included the equipment-carry task, crossing a minefield and pushing a stalled Humvee.
At the conclusion of his squad’s run through this lane, Staff Sgt. Christopher Welsh conducted an after-action review with his squad.
“What do you think we did real good, and what do you think we could’ve done better?” he asked his soldiers, all specialists or privates first class, then offered his own assessment of their performance. “I think we did pretty good overall.”
According to the graders, Welsh’s squad earned 96 of a possible 100 points.
The construction lanes were broken down by engineering specialties.
Firemen had to rescue a crash victim from a car then put out an automobile fire. Horizontal (heavy equipment) engineers had to build a 75-meter-long berm six feet high, and vertical (carpenters) engineers had to build a guard tower.
During the riot-control lane, two squads outfitted with batons, body shield and protective face shields and shin guards responded to a riot at a simulated prison camp.
Assistant S-3 officer, 1st Lt. Colby Larson, said unit leaders in this lane were evaluated on how well they controlled their own soldiers while attempting to quell the riot.
Although it receives administrative support from the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Stoinoff said the 92nd is a tenant unit attached to the 3rd Infantry Division from its parent unit, the 36th Engineer Brigade in Fort Hood, Texas.