'Assassins' train with pain
November 4, 2009
- A Troop Soldiers use simulated ammunition to deliver high-intensity training
- 'Sim-rounds' add realisim to training
FORT IRWIN, Calif. - A masked man waits patiently in the mountain village of Kut Adeera. He grips the steel of his weapon with white knuckles. He hears loud trucks and shouts, as U.S. Soldiers pull back the wire barrier between his town and the coming coalition assault. His commitment does not waiver.
He crouches, poised for his attack as the voices get louder. He rises and takes aim at an unsuspecting target.
Breathing steady, despite the adrenaline pumping through his veins, he looks past the sight to his target. Then his focus shifts back to the iron post at the end of his barrel. With a single, smooth and determined motion of his index finger, the first round of the day is released. Many more will follow.
Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, A Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, used simulated ammunition while operating as the opposing force during a series of training exercises with Soldiers from 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division at the National Training Center here in early October.
2nd Lt. Michael S. Mozelle, a Chicago native, now the platoon leader for 2nd Platoon, said that the rotational training unit, or BLUFOR, comes to the training village of Kut Adeera in search of a high-value target, or HVT.
"The BLUFOR comes in the town searching for the HVT who is in one of the buildings," said 2nd Lt. Mozelle. "He has a few bodyguards who are immediately hostile when they come in. When the BLUFOR finds the HVT and the hidden weapons cache, we have a sniper placed in the hills outside of town who will start firing on them."
The scenario is nothing new to Soldiers of the 11th ACR, who have the dual mission of training BLUFOR, and training themselves to be ready for combat when called upon.
However, Sgt. 1st Class Marc W. Turner, 2nd Platoon's platoon sergeant said, unlike other training events, the simulated ammunition, or sim-rounds, add an element of realism that is not present with the more traditional MILES laser training system.
"With MILES, if you don't have batteries in, you don't die," said Sgt. 1st Class Turner, a native of Somonauk, Ill. "With sim-rounds, if you get hit, it hurts your feelings and you know it. When you do get hit, while nursing your wounds you think, 'How can I not get hit again because that didn't feel good.'"
The sim-rounds reinforce the basic soldiering skill of finding cover, because the trainee can hear when the sim-round's pellet-like projectiles are hitting near him, said Spc. Eric C. Lynch, a machine gunner with 2nd Platoon's Recon Squad.
"With the sim-rounds, you hear them whiz by you, or hitting around you," said Spc. Lynch, a Baltimore native. "You can feel them and you are more aware that someone is actually shooting at you."
Spc. Lynch, who has deployed in support of overseas contingency operations, said training with the sim-rounds adds stress to the scenario that resembles combat.
"I get an adrenaline rush during every engagement with the sim-rounds," said Spc. Lynch. "Your heart gets going, and you just wanna go."
As the first round is fired back in Kut Adeera, the BLUFOR Soldiers are caught by surprise. The masked insurgent, Sgt. Sonny P. Mabuyo, a rifle team leader with 2nd Platoon, ducks for cover quickly as pellets pepper the supply connex he had just attacked from.
Sgt. Mabuyo falls back deeper into the town. The training unit follows closely behind.
The "Assassins" of A Troop wait patiently around the next corner. They crouch poised for their attack as the American voices get louder.
The BLUFOR Soldiers fall into the Assassins' trap now, to avoid falling into the real enemy's trap later.