DSTB troops train on survival skills
August 27, 2008
The lines on the battlefield were once clearly known as uniformed armies fought against each other in trenches and foxholes. Since Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, those lines have shifted more to urban terrain and on the highways and streets of local neighborhoods.
Adapting to an enemy who uses tactics and weaponry, such as improvised explosive devices, requires Soldiers to be able to engage the enemy whether on foot or in a moving vehicle.
Soldiers in the Division Special Troops Battalion conducted reflexive fire, convoy live-fire battle drills and casualty evacuation training to prepare them for such an engagement against any enemy. They also learned basic communication skills and how to operate the M2 (.50 caliber) machine gun as part of crew drills.
"This was a great way to integrate new Soldiers on how the Army does its business, focus on our war-time mission in Korea and prepare for future deployments in other areas of the world," said 2nd Lt. Matthew Simon, executive officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Infantry Division.
Simon along with 2nd Lt. Miguel Beasley, DSTB Headquarters and Headquarters Support Company, planned the training event, and relied heavily on the expertise of experienced noncommissioned officers who deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The versatile background of the infantrymen, mechanics, medics and other Soldiers training outside of their MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) was the glue that held this training together," said Simon, from Shenandoah Junction, Wisc.
Both officers agreed that introducing how to shoot reflexive fire was the highlight and biggest challenge for the Soldiers. Their intent was to ensure the Soldiers engage their targets aggressively, yet safely.
"Reflexive firing is one of the most fundamental Soldier combat skills," Beasley said. "Soldiers were standing side by side next to their battle buddy and had to know how to properly control their weapon and use muscle memory. By day two, they began to coach and mentor each other."
Despite serving for nearly 30 years in the Marine Corps Reserves, 50-year-old Staff Sgt. Warner Ortiz, is now on active duty as a military intelligence Soldier. The native of Forked River, N.J., was enthused about the training.
"Across the Army, Soldiers are training on how to counter roadside bombs," Ortiz said. "Soldiers in the 2nd Infantry Division should not miss out on this type of training because of their assignment."
Operating both an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and a .50 caliber machine gun for the first time in his military career, Spc. Jason Pallack gained valuable experience should he be assigned to a deploying unit.
"Now I feel I can confidently handle a 50 cal and an M249 gun," said the Tuxedo, N.Y. native. "The IED props were very helpful, because I could see what I would be looking at."
At the conclusion of the one-week training event, Simon admitted he was gratified to have the Soldiers perform on their war-time mission and focus of supporting the Division.
"The end result is now we have very confident Soldiers," he said. "All of our After Action Reports revealed the same thing - these Soldiers felt so much confidence in their ability to use different weapon systems, engage the enemy as part of a convoy, communicate on the radio and also evacuate a wounded comrade, if needed."
Summarizing up the training event best, Staff Sgt. Jeff Baril said, "Coming from a medical MOS, I never shot anything but an M-16 and M9. This training is very important, particularly for Soldiers who have not been over there (Iraq, Afghanistan). It could be the difference between life and death."