Students make MOUT meaningful
December 8, 2009
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. Aca,!" Tracking down a high-value target while walking unfamiliar streets, occupied by a foreign people who, for all intents and purposes, may not trust you can be tough even for the most seasoned squad leader, especially with new Soldiers in tow.
This scenario is all too common for the armed services and that's why the Army mandates Military Operations on Urban Terrain training for its Soldiers.
However, for the students at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, they also relish the opportunity to not only run through the MOUT, but to also use their language instruction to negotiate their training course.
The opportunity to marry the training came for members of F Company, 229th Military Intelligence Battalion, during a course set up on the former Fort Ord.
"Basically we needed to train the team on MOUT and ... interpretation exercises," Sgt. Justin Wolfgram, F Company, 229th Military Intelligence Battalion, said. "The commander found a way to integrate the two."
Wolfgram, who was also team leader for his newly formed squad for the scenario, said at first he did not expect much to come of the exercise, but later found it to be a welcome surprise.
"I think it was genius in general, integrating our 'how to' (tactical) training ... with what we are learning with our languages," he said. "I'm glad because, to be honest, I thought today was going to be a waste."
Staff Sgt. Andy Johnson, squad leader, was able to exercise his leadership and communications skills with the new squad, which he said will help him in the future.
"It taught me to think on my feet," he said of the often hectic scenarios that included in-your-face civilian role-players, fire fights and suicide-bombings, to name a few. "Being a leader you get to find out the strengths and weaknesses of your squad quickly through interactions and work from there," he added.
Johnson said he was also grateful for having the opportunity to train in something that is outside the general DLI training. He explained that because of the long, intensive language training done inside of a classroom, it is not generally easy to schedule DLI students for tactical-type training.
"I got to refresh on what I've forgotten and go from there," said Johnson, an eight-year veteran with war experience.
The scenario was not only a refresher for Johnson, but an eye-opener for the newer Soldiers, who are often coming into DLI directly after graduating from basic combat training.
"I liked it a lot because it is very useful," Pvt. Chelsea Nehm said of her experience. "There was good teamwork and our leaders knew what was going on."
Nehm said that the exercise helped her realize what it may be like for her as her military career progresses. She also said she appreciated the chance to practice her new language in an outdoor, realistic setting.
"It was good that the (portrayed) enemy was (foreign) and gave the team the ability to use our language outside of the classroom environment," Nehm said.
She also praised her leaders' abilities during stressful situations, saying that "They are all really good leaders and you can tell they have experience."
Johnson also shared the same sentiment of his squad members.
"The main thing about these Soldiers is that they are smart," he said. "They pick things up ... quickly, and for me, coming out here, it has been a joy to work with them."