870th Engineer Company (Sapper)
Florida Army National Guard
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On xx 2012 the 870th Engineer Company (Florida Army National Guard) arrived at Forward Operating Base Lagman, Afghanistan, under the command of Captain Joel Ellis. This was Captain Ellis' fourth combat deployment, with three previous deployments to Iraq. The company became part of Task Force Lumberjack, based on the 20th Engineer Battalion (the Engineer headquarters for Regional Command South).
On 24 August 2012 the 870th Engineer Company executed a "relief in place" with the 883rd Engineer Company, taking over responsibility for route clearance in Zabul Province.
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Story by Jessica Jackson - 24 August 2012:
870th assumes control of route clearance operations
ZABUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan - The 870th Engineer Company assumed control of route clearance operations in Zabul province, Afghanistan from the 883rd Route Clearance Company in a transfer of authority ceremony at Forward Operating Base Lagman, Aug. 23.
The 870th Engineer Company assumed control of route clearance operations in Zabul province, Afghanistan from the 883rd Route Clearance Company in a transfer of authority ceremony at Forward Operating Base Lagman, Aug. 23.
The relief in place and transfer of authority is a long-standing tradition between units of the United States Armed Forces who, while deployed, transfer authority of their line units and area of operation to the newly-arrived units in theater.
"It's a good mission. There are a lot of guys who are excited for the mission," said Capt. Joel Ellis, 870th En. Company commander. "Since we are drawing down, it could be the last legitimate combat operation some of my guys get to do for a while."
The RIP process takes several weeks. This ensures the change of authority between the outgoing and incoming units is done smoothly.
"The RIP has gone relatively smooth, but you can't judge it until we're running it by ourselves," said Ellis. "A book can only teach you so much about equipment capabilities and limitations, so that's one of the best handoffs we've been able to get."
Ellis said his soldiers are excited to take over the missions from the 883rd.
"I expect a lot of growth and maturity from these guys. We have a lot of other capabilities, but a deployment gives us an opportunity to dial in on some of those basic soldiering skills," Ellis expressed.
The 870th is tasked with partnering with the Afghan National Army 2/205th RCC to further develop their capabilities in clearing routes for the freedom of movement of the local populace.
"The guys I picked to work with the ANA have a lot of experience and have the skill set they need," Ellis said. He added he is sure his partnership officers will proficiently handle the task of training the ANA troops to be able to confidently take the lead on protecting the people of their country.
U.S. Army Capt. James McVeigh gave his thoughts on the 870th's partnership with the ANA.
"The concept of working with the ANA was foreign to us, but we've made a lot of lead way and helped to progress the 2/205th tremendously," said McVeigh. "We left them a really good foundation to work with, and I believe (Ellis) has a good pair of guys to continue on with the partnership"
The company's mission in Afghanistan will keep them on the front lines of danger for long hours to clear critical routes for the safety of locals as well as coalition forces.
"I have a lot of confidence in my guys," Ellis said. The 870th will surely clear the way so that others may safely follow.
Captain Joel Ellis, Company Commander
The company earned the campaign streamer for Afghanistan - Consolidation II.