by Cadet Lucas Grulke
The Sapper Leader Course is the premier leadership course for the Engineer Regiment. This course focuses on the necessary skills and advanced techniques for combat engineers in the Army. Split up into two phases, General Studies and Patrolling, the course is 28 days long.
General Studies consists of many different classes, training, and tests that are pertinent to engineers to utilize. Training such as air operations, mountaineering and rappelling operations, waterborne operations and demolition operations. Throughout the General Studies phase, Sapper Candidates will be put through demanding physical and mental tests both individually and in teams, events such as the Sapper Physical Fitness Test, Sapper 12 mile ruck, Land Navigation, Boat PT, squad fitness tests, knots and rappelling, squad mountaineering operations and squad waterborne operations. At the end of General Studies, the Sapper Candidates will be told whether or not they have passed that phase and can continue on to the Patrolling Phase.
The Patrolling Phase is the culmination of all the skills that the Sapper Candidates learned in General Studies put to the test in an intense field training exercise. Sapper Candidates will conduct continual 24 hour Engineer and Infantry missions, forcing them to use battle drills and specialized engineer techniques. With little food and little sleep, the Sapper Candidates need to continually perform and lead from the front in order to accomplish their mission. This phase focuses on leadership and team work, for these are the necessary components to accomplish the mission and to graduate the course. At the end of Patrolling the Sapper Candidates will be taken to Heart Break formation where they will be told whether or not they met the requirements to graduate and wear the Sapper Tab.
The motto of the course states, “Earn the Right!” and that is heavily stressed throughout. The honor to be awarded the status of Sapper Leader and wear the Tab does not come from just participating in the course. Sapper Leader Course is a leadership course and expects that leadership is displayed and upheld in all candidates in order for them to earn the right to wear the tab. Physically and mentally demanding, this course will test candidates in stressful and austere environments pushing them further every day with new challenges to overcome.