|Best sapper-related pic I was able to find.|
It's strange to me how sappers never seem to inspire much imagination, never seem to get good stories in military journals. They resemble military intelligence and military police in this regard.
There were interesting technological developments for army engineers, of course. Sadly, the only reports (such as conference documentations) about their stuff sent even me to sleep.
One such example was a mid-90's hype about quick dry cement. It sounded like the answer to most questions of army engineering nature.
Build obstacles in hours? Quick dry cement!
Build buildings in hours? Quick dry cement!
Repair roads or bridges in hours? Quick dry cement!
Build field fortifications in hours? Quick dry cement!
Somehow, some researchers were extremely enthusiastic about quick dry cement for army engineers. I had difficulties to imagine anything more boring than cement, though.
Meanwhile the German military journals annoyed me by repeating assertions about the greatness and innovation of the Keiler, a simple 40 years late vehicle that based on a British '42 invention. Those articles usually made more the impression of an "armour"-themed article than an "sappers"-themed one.
There could be so very interesting articles about sappers.
They have the (often unofficial) role of emergency auxiliary infantry, and some of their outfits were indeed (in some countries) meant as crack specialist assault troops.
It's been known for decades that support troops need to be more capable of self-defence than they are; a secondary mindset, equipment and small unit organisation for this might make sense (I know that many have given up any hope in regard to rear personnel fighting capabilities and equate 70% of army forces to the trail of non-combattant traders and craftsmen that followed pre-18th century field armies).
Sappers are the most obvious starting point for a movement towards this.
Wouldn't it be nice for a change to see some articles in the general military journals about how some sapper battalion can turn into a dismounted area defence battalion within five minutes, about what it figured out concerning the training schedule, concerning mindset, leadership requirements, weapons and munitions compromises?
Then again, German sappers (Pioniere) have a reputation that was coined by the personnel system's low intelligence requirements for their recruits. They drew much of their leadership from their recruit pool. Maybe this is a more widespread issue and they're the last ones to expect major innovations from?