FORT POLK, La. -- Preparing for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan, Soldiers from 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, conducted infantry tactics training at Camp Williams, Utah, Feb. 15-16.

The 5-25 FA Soldiers are in Utah to perform artillery tasks as part of off-post training exercises supporting the Patriot Brigade's 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment. However, the 5-25 FA "Red Legs" took time to take infantry tactics classes that they might actually be called upon to perform during deployment.

"We are trying to get artillerymen up (to standard) on infantry formations and tasks," said 1st Sgt. Travis Elliston of Company B, 2-4 Inf. "If they go on patrols (in Afghanistan), we want them to know how to patrol as infantrymen."

Noncommissioned officers from Co B taught all of the classes, and the first block of instruction included casualty collection point procedures and nine-line medical evacuation refresher training. The training was so effective even Soldiers with professional medical experience got something out of the class.

"This is a good building block," said Pfc. Terry Trinkella, a medic for 5-25 FA.

The artillery Soldiers received a class about hand signals and how to use them properly during troop movements. Some Soldiers showed surprise when they learned the number of hand signals infantrymen use and how detailed they are.

"We use a couple of these all the time. We learned more, which was very useful," said Pfc. Loc Cao, fire direction control, Battery B. "We learned the hand wave to assemble but had to remember to point to where we were assembling at so they (Soldiers) don't assemble at the wrong point."

After gaining an understanding of basic hand signals and troop movements, the 5-25 FA Soldiers practiced their newly taught lessons in the snow. With snow accumulations up to knee high for some Soldiers and a change in altitude from Fort Polk to Camp Williams, the troops focused on more than just hand signals.

"We're getting acclimated to the altitude; it is colder here than in Louisiana," said Pavlicek. "Being in the snow is good practice for Afghanistan, because we might be doing these movements in snow there as well."

The artillerymen's infantry training resumed the next day, so Soldiers could start fresh and build upon the lessons already learned. Soldiers made sure they got the most out of the two-day training.

"When we go to Afghanistan, there's a good chance we will be attached to an infantry unit," said Cao. "The more practice we get, we can turn it into muscle memory and know what to do."
Highlights on the second day of training included clearing improvised explosive devices; reporting unexploded ordnance; entering villages, towns, houses; and searching enemy personnel.

"It was good to learn how to clear an area if you suspect an IED," said Cao. "Then we were shown how to check for secondary IEDs while also pulling security and calling the Explosive Ordinance Detachment. They (Co B NCOs) did a great job explaining this to us."

The threat of IEDs makes searching enemy personnel that much more important to the security of all the Soldiers on patrol. Soldiers took this seriously.

"You take two guys, have one pull security and the other search the enemy," said Cao. "If (he's) alive, you secure him under control; if not, then search for detonators."

With two days of training complete, artillery Soldiers gained a better understanding of their infantry brothers and share a similar mindset with them as they all move on from here.
"This is good training for both of us (5-25 FA and 2-4 Inf) to be here," said Pavlicek. "It is good for the infantry and artillery to work together and trust each other more."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16