214th Fires Brigade Soldiers prepare for deployment
December 19, 2013
FORT SILL, Okla. (Dec. 19, 2013) -- In final preparation for their upcoming deployment to Southwest Asia, Soldiers of Task Force Charlie, 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery, conducted a culminating training event Dec. 9-13 at Contingency Operations Location Mow-Way on Fort Sill.
The exercise was a last chance for the Soldiers to practice their tasks before their upcoming mission as a security force assigned to protect coalition assets and allow freedom of maneuver for friendly troops.
They also look forward to maintaining a positive reputation and fostering relationships with the local people. The team which was built with individually selected Soldiers in September, has been training intensely since its inception.
The five-day training is just one of many exercises the Soldiers have been a part of since receiving the orders to deploy. The mission is unique as the Soldiers are mostly composed of field artillery specialties, but will not be using that skill set during their deployment.
"It has been a long road to adjust away from field artillery missions, but seeing how far we have come, everybody knows that we have accomplished our goals of achieving complete mission readiness," said Capt. Christopher Campbell, the task force commander for the team.
"Nonstandard missions are the new standard for artillery Soldiers so with this training we will know what to do when we get out there," said Sgt. 1st Class Danny Tinnie, a platoon sergeant in the battery.
At the beginning of the week, the team occupied and set up the forward operating base, placing 24-hour security in towers and entry points while distributing communication equipment to ensure everyone could be alerted of significant activity. Constant scenarios occurred to keep the Soldiers alert, such as IED threats and opposition forces trying to break into the FOB; and that was just during the first night.
"It has been a challenge, but to see a hodgepodge of job specialties come together and culminate into a cohesive and operable unit with this training is very fulfilling and a definite confidence builder," said Campbell.
Later in the week, the Soldiers controlled unauthorized people trying to gain entry into their area, a suicide bomber and vehicles spying on their operations, all while taking incoming fire. All scenarios were designed to be high stress to ensure that should the Soldiers be faced with something similar, they know what to do and can think clearly.
The weeklong training wrapped up with numerous high-tension situations, such as an early morning active shooter, protestors trying to infiltrate the base and even having a contractor in their area as a possible enemy. The leadership of the battalion who planned the event wanted to ensure the team built upon their learning from previous training earlier in the year such as riot control, reacting to an IED and maintaining entry control points. Though refresher training for some senior Soldiers, thorough training was a must, given their upcoming mission and the importance that the task force has to the safety of friendly forces.
"The Soldiers have adjusted well to this mission and have done outstanding learning all the tasks and jobs without ever losing the proper mindset," said 2nd Lt. Joshua Mills, a task force platoon leader. "The training showed us some issues and deficiencies but we have corrected them all and are a much more proficient force because of it."