"Warhorse" takes training to the streets
July 24, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas - A convoy of M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles crashed through a ramshackle barricade built on the village's barren street. Soldiers dismount from the armored vehicles; each team of men cautiously making their way to one of several buildings.
As the day wears on, gunshots can be heard, as well as the resonating boom of indirect fire. Detainees, local civilians, casualties and full contact engagements keep the Soldiers on high alert at all times.
This scenario may seem like one from the streets of Baghdad, but in truth, touches much closer to home.
C Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division held a cordon, search, and react training exercise at Fort Hood, Texas July 17. The exercise is part of a two week simulation that "Warhorse" troopers conducted to prepare for their upcoming deployment to Iraq.
The intent of the exercise was to secure a city and then ensure that the buildings and roads in that city were clear of any threats, said 1st Sgt. Audie Person, C Co.1st Sgt., from Jackson, Tenn.
"My Soldiers are learning room clearing procedures, actually quartering the city and working with the local populace," he said. "They are also learning the security of dismounted elements, how to identify improvised explosive devices, and how to react to small arms fire, indirect fire, and suicide bombers."
E Co., the battalion's engineers, joined Pearson's men during the exercise, ensuring that the roads were clear of IEDs.
"We cleared the route in front of "Chaos" (C Co.), so they could clear the town. They cleared buildings in the inner part of the city and also in the western part," said Cpl. Ben Grimsley, an engineer with E Co. from Stephenville, Texas.
"We kept our communication open, and we responded well to the IED that we discovered," he said. "I think it went really well."
Training exercises like this one directly pertain to similar situations in Iraq, giving the troops the most realistic training possible.
"Route clearance is all we're going to be doing in Iraq and at NTC (National Training Center) as engineers, so this training helps us a lot."
Cpt. Alex Hooper, the commander of Headquarter, Headquarters and Company from Austin, Texas oversaw the training lane.
"I spent 15 months deployed as a platoon leader. I can say that every event that was integrated into this scenario happened every time we went out on patrol," Hooper said. "Everything that these guys are seeing now will apply to the mission downrange."
Hooper was particularly interested in the training of the leaders on the lane.
"We engineered a few cause and effect scenarios with the role players," he said. "The way the commander reacted to those and dealt with the tribal leader was good."
"That's a big part of the company commander and platoon leader's job downrange," said Hooper.
"If we can integrate that into our training now, and let those leaders engage the local population, that's perfect," Hooper said. "That's just as important as putting bullets downrange."