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Engineering for the future

Largest trench complex at JBLM

Lt. Gen. Gary Volesky, I Corps Commanding General, is joined by Col. John Becking and Col. Nicole Lucas in opening JBLM’s Trench Training Complex. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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The engineers had completed their work, and yesterday morning they watched and listened as the result of their hard work was recognized.

"There is a legacy here," said Lt. Gen. Gary Volesky, I Corps Commanding General, moments before cutting a red ribbon to open the new Observation Point 10 Trench Training Complex at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM).

Joining him were Col. Nicole Lucas, Garrison Commander; Col. John Becking, commander, 555th Engineer Brigade; and approximately 175 soldiers and civilian officials.

"I stopped by a few times during the construction," continued Volesky, "and a number of soldiers told me doing this kind of work was why they joined the Army."

Scrapers, D7 bulldozers, hydraulic excavators, light equipment transporters with trailers, and dump trucks were used during construction.

The complex will allow I Corps and JBLM units -- up to battalion size -- to prepare for and meet any threat in what is now a very complex and evolving world.

An added benefit is that the training will occur at JBLM rather than at the Yakima Training Center.

Soldiers will maneuver through undulating terrain filled with challenges to a large complex objective in which live fire exercises can be conducted.

The design of the trench will stress units' abilities to plan and utilize mission command and control to accomplish their training objectives.

"This complex will test units to be prepared to face anything," said Capt. John Echer, 557th Engineer Construction Company.

The cost of the Army-built project penciled out at about $1 million, considerably less than the $4 million price tag had contractors been employed.

Planning for the project began in February 2018, and the construction portion of the mission started in September with tree-cutting operations. The work was completed earlier this month.

The 557th led the construction effort with support from the 864th Engineer Battalion Construction Cell, the 555th Engineer Brigade Construction Management Team, and elements from the 22nd Engineer Clearance Company, the 571st Sapper Company, and the 610th Engineer Support Company.

The sinuous trench winds around for about a mile, and it features 16 bunkers of various sizes, some of which are constructed for aerial assault to encourage combined arms training.

"The wonderful thing about being an engineer is that you see what your hands have created," concluded Becking, "and you know that other soldiers will train on something that was created to build readiness."

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