FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Weighed down by 75 pounds-plus of protective gear, ammunition, weapons and other equipment, 6th Military Police Detachment Special Reaction Team members barged into a Johnson Street home in Bowden Terrace at Fort Rucker Feb. 25.

After the sounds of shattering glass and bodies pummeling full-force through doors quieted, eight Soldiers collected themselves to discuss how the training exercise went.

The event was part of the team's trial period in testing several potential candidates' abilities, said Sgt. Carlos Whitehead, SRT noncommissioned officer-in-charge. He currently has a team of 10 people working with him but hopes to grow to 12 soon. Once the team reaches full strength, Soldiers will continue week-long training exercises monthly to keep themselves in peak condition for performing their inspection duties around post.

The team's point man, Spc. James Simpson, said conducting trials to introduce potential new members last week not only aided beginners but also helped him and other more seasoned Soldiers perfect their skills.

"It allows us to access their physical abilities ... and better judge and scale their ability to integrate into the team."

Since SRT falls under the MPs, "our primary focus is the protection of the installation," Whitehead said, meaning their training focuses on installation neighborhoods, stores, facilities, vehicles and aircraft.

During their work at various venues, Soldiers are tested on their physical, technical, tactical and teamwork abilities, whether during trials or regular training. Whitehead said they also regularly participate in marksmanship training, since maintaining a "tight shot group" is important when firing weapons in close quarters, like houses.

Last week's drill was one of many that took place in a Picerne Military Housing structure waiting to be demolished in the company's efforts to improve post quarters. Knowing the residences are already on the chopping block allows SRT members to break windows, knock down doors and cause other damages to gain entry quickly, Whitehead explained.

"We can fully demolish however we would do it during a (real) entry," he said.

Practicing scenarios over and over again to be prepared for actual incidents is what makes the team successful, some Soldiers said.

Spc. J.J. Knowles, a shield man, said repetition increases teamwork and cohesion among the small unit. He said the most challenging SRT requirements are the physical ones - toting around heavy gear all day long - and memorizing necessary information and procedures.

Others agreed with Knowles, saying while the work is hard, it's worthwhile.

Being an SRT Soldier is not easy, Simpson said, noting the team members are all MPs, first and foremost.

"It takes dedication. You're on call 24/7 (as an SRT member)," he said.

Page last updated Fri March 5th, 2010 at 14:39