By Staff Sgt. David Bruce, Atterbury-Muscatatuck Public Affairs
Construction continues apace at the latest training venue at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind. For the past year construction has been ongoing to create what is termed as the Village Realism Project at what will be known as Range 62, located in Training Area 117.
“The village will have 45 hardstand brick buildings, over 20 conex buildings over a 25 acre area,” said Capt. Terry Riesel, of Syracuse, N.Y., operations officer for the 1st Battalion, 345th Engineer Regiment. “We broke ground on the construction in April with the project ongoing for a year.”
The reason for the extended timeframe for completion, according to Riesel, is the project is funded using free labor. That is to say, units coming through Camp Atterbury will provide the necessary labor and expertise to complete the facility.
“Units that come through for mobilization, annual training, or seeking military occupational skills training will continue the project,” he said.
Contributing to the project recently were Soldiers of the 76th Engineer Company (Vertical) and 15th Engineer Company (Horizontal) of the 19th Engineer Battalion based at Fort Knox, Ky., said Riesel.
“We’ve had three weeks of pretty solid construction,” he said. “We are leaps and bounds ahead of where we were.”
Riesel said that the new facilities will further distinguish Camp Atterbury as premier training installation.
“This absolutely separates us from other reserve or National Guard training bases,” said Riesel. “Most training bases have villages that are conex only. The added realism of the hardstand buildings with stucco facades will add an extra layer of realism for the units training here.”
The ongoing project will see several units contributing to the eventual completion of the new facilities such as 76th Engineer Company and 15th Engineer Company from Fort Knox, Ky.
The 76th Engineer Company is a vertical construction unit that is responsible for constructing the hardstand buildings for the new training area. The construction is valuable training for the two platoon-sized elements of the 76th Engineer Company, said 2nd Lt. Kelli Foley, of Fort Knox, Ky., platoon leader and engineer officer.
“The Soldiers are gaining valuable experience using masonry techniques, which is rare that we get this kind of opportunity,” said Foley. “We get a project like this maybe once a year.”
Foley said that a typical project for the 76th involves a lot of carpentry; the constructing of the new range gives them the opportunity of lay block and mix mortar.
“We haven’t done masonry in a while, but they have picked up extremely fast,” said Foley. “We have some very experienced Soldiers and the knowledge is spreading. This is a valuable training opportunity to lay block. We look forward to down the line being able to come back and use the training site we made.”
The activity at the future training site bears striking similarities to a construction site in the civilian sector. Pfc. Mohamed Hassan, of Queens, N.Y., with the 76th Engineer Company, said this is the side of the Army that most civilians do not see.
“When we deploy it is to build up an area,” he said. “We build forward operating bases and do a lot of humanitarian missions. This is the other side of the Army, the creator.”
While the 76th Engineer Company was constructing the buildings that would be the village, the 15th Engineer Company, a horizontal construction unit, were busy building roads and infrastructure for the range.
“We’ve emplaced three roads, installed 2 culverts and filled footers for the foundations of the buildings that the 76th are putting up,” said Sgt. Davon Morris, of Fort Knox, Ky., an engineer with 15th Engineer Company. “We,” the 15th Engineer Company, “get about 2-3 major opportunities like this a year. We enjoy it when we get a chance to do our jobs; to take nothing and turn it into something.”
The construction at Range 62 will continue throughout the year with an expected completion in the spring of 2013.
120809-A-PX072-022: Sgt. Christopher Nienhaus, of Craigsville, W.Va., with the 76th Engineer Company, sets the level of a block during construction at a new mock village at Camp Atterbury joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind., Aug. 9. The construction is a year-long project to build a realistic village for training over 25 acres and consisting of 45 brick buildings and over 20 conex structures that will be completed by various units as they rotate through Camp Atterbury for training. (photo by Staff Sgt. David Bruce, Atterbury-Muscatatuck Public Affairs)