Wisconsin Sappers clearing routes in Afghanistan
Date: June 4, 2009
The commander of the 951st Sapper Company, Wisconsin Army National Guard, reports that all
is well after four months in Afghanistan.
Capt. Brian Barth said his unit of approximately 100 soldiers has been busy with several
missions that help maintain freedom to maneuver for U.S. and coalition forces. These missions
include searching for improvised explosive devices, reconnoitering key terrain features as well as
bypass roads for major supply routes and alternative supply routes, but also gathering biometric
data from local residents — name, date and location of birth, home of record, iris scans and
These missions have Barth’s soldiers operating outside of the forward operating bases more
often than inside, sometimes for weeks at a time.
“From my viewpoint, we’re forcing the enemy to change how he does things,” Barth said, such
as placing specific IEDs on certain routes.
The commander said his unit has been outfitted with “some of the best technology the military
has to offer” to accomplish its mission. Many of his soldiers are college students or in
management and have quickly adapted to the changing technology.
“We have a ‘can-do’ attitude,” Barth noted.
He described unit morale as excellent, and said the two FOBs his unit is stationed at — Kandahar
Air Field in Kandahar province and FOB Lagman in Zabul province — provide pretty good
amenities such as themed dining facilities, large post exchanges and decent Morale, Welfare and
“My guys have adapted well,” Barth observed. “We’ve come together as a team.”
The 951st, based out of Rhinelander and Tomahawk, mobilized Nov. 30, 2008 and trained at
Camp Shelby, Miss. They arrived in Afghanistan on Feb. 2. They are among approximately
3,600 Wisconsin National Guard soldiers and airmen on active duty.