Serving in the Army Reserve: Engineer Officer

Captain Sabrina Berg talks about her role as an Engineer Officer in the Army Reserve and how that role has helped her perform her civilian duties as a Supervisory Entry Specialist in the U.S. Customs & Border Protection.

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ARMY RESERVE LIFE: ENGINEER OFFICER

My job as an Engineer Officer is to serve as the supervisor for a project site. We do great things like build roads, we build structures and vertical companies. We do combat engineering, we do route clearance. The mission is varied and there’re so many opportunities for growth.

Clear the way—that is the importance of the engineers. We make the path for the units to get through, um, and target a location. So you would build a road or you would improve upon a road for that maneuver unit to reach their objective. It’s exciting, Soldiers love to use the equipment. It’s great to get out there. You can see what you’ve accomplished from day one. The lot of the Soldiers, they also do it in their civilian career. So you get the subject matter expertise, and when we get on site, we execute.

I have learned how to stay organized, to be a proactive leader, to manage people, but also to lead them. To set an example. On the civilian side, I’ve learned leadership skills and management skills and… and how to work with people. Those skills have benefited me in the Army Reserve. I’m grateful for the Army to have given me the ability to trust myself, to have confidence in myself.

ARMY RESERVE LIFE: ENGINEER OFFICER LEADING A CONVOY

There’s a lot of responsibility involved in running a convoy. The engineer support, the battalion. We do logistics. That’s our subject matter expertise. You have the convoy manifest, all Soldiers have to be assigned to vehicles, they will have a truck commander in making sure that everybody in the convoy is well aware of all the information—the location where you’re going, spacing, speed—these things are absolutely important for convoy success. Getting a convoy from point A to point B is essential. We have Soldiers, we have units that are forward deployed and we provide logistical support. We are the individuals, we are the company, the Soldiers that are going to drop off those much-needed supplies.

There have been so many opportunities that I never expected to get out of joining the Army Reserve, and one of the great things is leading troops and being responsible for making sure that they get the training that they need. I always tell my soldiers when I’m given an order, I’m aware that I’m one, but I’m more than aware that there’s 99 people standing behind me.

CIVILIAN LIFE: U.S. CUSTOMS & BORDER PROTECTION

U.S. Customs & Border Protection is the face of the border for the United States and the Department of Homeland Security. We facilitate legitimate trade and travel while protecting our borders from weapons of mass destruction, narcotics, and illegal currency.

As a Supervisory Entry Specialist for the port of Charleston, I would be able to go out to the dock terminals and I would work hand in hand with the customs and border protection officers and the agriculture specialists. We are the heart of the income into the United States, or trade. We bring in billions of dollars into the U.S. economy. The great thing about the Army Reserve and U.S. Customs & Border Protection is many of the duties that I’ve done in one position I can apply to the other position. Whether it be public speaking, management organization, both of these agencies require that skillset. I do believe that I have excelled in my civilian career due to the work that I’ve done in the Army Reserve. I keep myself composed, I apply emotional intelligence which I’ve picked up a lot in the Army Reserve. Those skills, the organizational skills, the leadership skills, the management, it is nothing that you can be taught. It’s experience. And at the Army Reserve has given me so much opportunity to really understand what I’m capable of.