"Sappers Lead The Way! Earn the Right!"
The Sapper Leader Course was designed to train light engineer leaders in the aspects of Airborne, Air Assault, Mountain, and light infantry tactics to form a more cohesive maneuver element. It was modeled after the Infantry's "Light Leader Course", hosted at Fort Benning, GA, and still holds close to the same format to this day. The need for the course arose because of the specific mission requirements maneuver commanders had for their engineer leaders and the lack of available Ranger course slots for non-infantry leaders. If an engineer leader had the ability to attend the Ranger course, due to an infantryman no-show, he would still be required to complete several additional service schools to have the same knowledge base.
The course's design began in 1982, and continued until its inception in 1985. The validation class began 12 May 1985 and ended 14 June 1985, graduating the first 18 Sapper Leaders. The first class was the foundation for the building of the Sapper Leader Course of today. The initial course cadre consisted of Combat Engineers, Infantry, and Special Forces Soldiers, implementing the most diverse conventional Army curriculum of its time.
In December 1986, the Sapper Leader Course undertook the daunting task of executing a Mobile Training Team (MTT) Class at Ft. AP Hill, Virginia for the 229th Engineer Battalion (VANG). The course would take place for six consecutive weekend training cycles and the unit's two-week annual training. The guest speaker for the graduation of this class was LTG (ret) David E. Grange Jr., whom the Best Ranger Competition is named after. Additionally, the Honorable John O. Marsh Jr., Secretary of the Army, attended the graduation signifying the gravity of this accomplishment.
It was a general consensus that the course should adopt a creed that fostered Espirt de Corps, and embodied the essence of the Sapper Leader. In 1992, the Course's Chief Instructor SFC David Chandler, now SGM (ret), assumed the mission and wrote the Sapper Creed that is still used today.
On June 6, 1999 the Sapper Leader Course graduated 26 new Sapper Leaders to augment the operational force. There was only one notable difference between this class and the 3,713 previous graduates. The first female attendee, CDT Micala Hicks, was among the graduates. At the time there was no military course of this nature to have female attendees let alone graduates. The
Sapper Leader Course is the first tab producing school to have female graduates. Through 2014 and 2015, the Sapper Leader Course hosted many visits from Congress, the Army Human Resources Command, and the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade and briefed the procedures that the course uses while training female candidates. These procedures were adopted by many courses to bridge the gap of gender equality, without compromising standards.
During the Course's design an accouterment was suggested for Graduates, in the form of a badge much like the Airborne or Air Assault Badge. The idea was dropped due to it being a unit course. The idea gained traction again in late 1987 with the help of LTG (ret) Grange's letter to the Secretary of the Army in August 1987. For years the idea stayed stagnant until the course completed full accreditation by Training and Doctrine Command. In 2004 LTG (ret) Robert B. Flowers, at the time the Chief of Engineers, was able to gain enough traction to get the accouterment approved by Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker in the form of the "Sapper Tab". The Sapper Tab was authorized for permanent wear 28 June 2004.
In 2005 the Engineer Regiment launched the Inaugural Best Sapper Competition to showcase the Engineer Regiments premier Leadership Course and the Regiments elite Sapper Leaders. It has continued Annually every year except 2013 and 2014 due to sequestration funding complications. In 2018 the United States Army Engineer School unveiled the naming of the Best Sapper
Competition as the Lieutenant General Robert B. Flowers Best Sapper Competition. This is in honor of LTG Flowers' contributions to the Sapper Leader Course.
After many years of arduous work, the Sapper Training Detachment was re-designated as the Sapper Training Company (Provisional) on 4 December 2017.
In March 2018 the Sapper Training company adopted the aphorism "Earn the Right!"
December 7th, 2018 Sergeant Hailey Falk earned her right to be called a Sapper Leader as the first enlisted female graduate. The Combat Engineer MOS was not open to female soldiers until 2015, although many wanted to attend the course they did not meet the entrance requirments of the time. 326 females had attended by that date, but only 110 had Earned the Right.