Lancers hit the ground running
September 18, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas- High velocity winds whip against sweat covered faces. Shrubs and grass swirl from the ground, picked up and strewn far from their original home. Over the loud whirring sound that makes hearing impossible, a lone voice penetrates the roar.
Soldiers fly to their feet and jump quickly but cautiously out of the back of the two Chinooks that are carrying them to an "Iraqi" city. Outside the city perimeter, Soldiers move to a prone fighting position to wait with eyes scanning the horizon for any sign of disturbance. The Chinooks beat a hasty retreat while Soldiers move quickly to tactical positions.
Soldiers of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat, 1st Cavalry Division mission was to capture and detain a high value insurgent who has taken refuge in the city. The goal is to advance on the subject, capture him, and acquire any pertinent information he has and make the city safer for the residence.
All this is happening at Rampage, the Ironhorse Brigade's field training exercise. The training is realistic, tactical training designed to improve the skills of "Ironhorse" Troopers before their upcoming deployment.
This particular lane taught the Soldiers the proper technique to entry into a city with the least amount of resistance by residents and hostile targets.
Outside the gates, overwatched by an AH-64 "Apache" helicopter, Soldiers from the second element moved into support positions. With eyes from the sky watching for miles around, the second element split into two teams. Team one secured the road and the outlying areas. Team two took a defensive posture and kept their eyes on the city, looking for any sign of trouble from within, waiting to give support by fire.
The waiting was intense. Tension ebbed and flowed in the veins of the Soldiers with each call from the radio.
Inside the city, team two searched each house with precision, delving deep into every nook and cranny. After a 45 minute search, team two cornered six insurgents. One insurgent was "armed" and fired on a Soldier, wounding him. Another insurgent fled before being captured outside the house. The captured hostiles showed little resistance when they were caught.
Outside the city gate, the support elements waited for the call. The call that said their fellow Soldiers needed their assistance. Minutes felt like hours. Suddenly the radio crackled to life. A quick message to the leader of the fire support team brought a smile to his face. The city was secure. The team leaders, followed by their men, still scanned the horizon.
With the citizens and streets safer in the city, both elements combine on the city's thoroughfare. Officers with tactical experience move to each of the four teams that make up the two elements and start their after action review.
The support teams quietly shake their heads as each mistake was brought to their attention by the more experienced observers. The critique didn't last long because there simply were not that many mistakes. In a real life mission, the Soldiers would have safely completed the mission and met their objective.
Arlington, Texas native 2nd Lt. Thomas Mansfield, led the support by fire team. His team was responsible for perimeter security.
"This team hit the ground running," said Mansfield. "I saw a lot of development from these guys. The new guys looked to the more experienced guys and we got this mission done with very few mistakes.
Jasper, Texas native Pvt. Michael Canfield, gunner for the mission, is a new Soldier to Co. D. He volunteered to carry the saw for the training and also volunteered for the casualty collection point.
"I think we did well," said Canfield. "But you can always do better. This is my first air assault and I wanted to give my all by doing my part."
Mansfield had some last words for his team. "You didn't hesitate to carry out your mission," said Mansfield. "You moved into position and stayed alert. Good work"
Next mission' Whatever it is, you can bet the Soldiers of 1st Platoon, Co. D have what it takes to pull it off.