Army Sapper School-An Overview

US Army Sappers are experts at building things…and BLOWING THEM UP!  Sapper comes from the French word, “Sapeur” a Soldier who digs saps (tunnels).  Yes, you will blow stuff up but Sapper School is not just about demo…or about performing as a sapper, which is a combat engineer who supports front-line Infantry.  It is all about becoming a leader and about learning and excelling under tough conditions.  Here is an overview of the US Army Sapper School…

You won’t eat, you won’t eat…you will, however, study land navigation, mountaineering, demolitions and enemy weaponry and practice rappelling and jumping into water from helicopters.  You will become an expert of knots and ruck a lot over intense terrain.  You’ll work harder than you’ve ever worked and finish with an intense FTX that combines battle drills and specialized techniques learned during the course.  And of course…you’ll hone leadership skills.

The first 14 days, or Phase I, cover general subjects including medical, land navigation, demolitions, air and water operations, mountaineering, land mines and weapons used by enemy forces.  The remaining 14 days, Phase II, cover basic patrolling techniques and battle drills that emphasize leadership.  Subjects include urban operations, breaching, patrol organization and movement, recon, raid and ambush tactics.  The course concludes with a continuous 8-day FTX.  These missions are a mix of engineer and Infantry mission with each training events graded and scored.

To graduate and wear the Sapper Tab, a sapper must earn 700 out of 1000 points.  60% of the candidates pass the course, but only 40% earn enough points to wear the tab!

The Sapper Course is open to Soldiers E-4 and above and Officers O-3 and below.  Candidates can be from any combat or combat support branch, but priority is given to engineering, Cavalry and Infantry Soldiers.  The course is hosted at Fort Leonardwood, Missouri.

Here’s a great video about Sapper School that you might enjoy.

If you’ve ever attended Sapper School, I would love to hear from you.  Leave a comment to share your experiences.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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4 thoughts on “Army Sapper School-An Overview”

  1. I like that the course has somewhat “transitioned” and is more of a combat arms course that is broad in scope rather than just a course focused on conventional SAPPER skills such as demolitions. This course is all about leadership and, in my opinion, all about teaching leaders how to get things done…no matter what the resources, conditions or situation you are in. A valuable for all leaders in all branches.

  2. Faith A. Coleman

    This sounds like hell while you’re in the midst of it, but feels so good when you stop that you’re glad that you were pushed beyond what you thought you were capable of. I’ve never been in a battle zone but have seen some movies with such intense, horrifying bloodshed and destruction, like the Deer Hunter, that left me shaken. I think how benign that is compared to the actual battlefield and how very, very much the soldiers suffer, the terror, the exhaustion, the hunger, the brink of insanity. No wonder PTSD is so prevelant; how could any soldier not be affected in such a way that it’s always with them, disturbing every bit of their lives.

    1. From what I’ve read, and heard from other Soldiers, SAPPER school is pretty tough, but very good. I’ve found that anything worth accomplishing is tough and by natural selection some people will fizzle out and fail. That’s a good thing as I see it.

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