The room was pitch black and white smoke filled the air. Gunshots accompanied by screams and Arabic prayer interfered with the communication from one Soldier to the next. Random flashes of light disrupted steady vision. The beam from a dim flashlight provided the sole illumination for medics to provide care to the wounded Soldier laying on the floor, covered in blood.

Such was the simulation at the indoor segment of the Combat Lifesaver Course, which was one of the many training classes Soldiers of the 535th Military Police Battalion attended for their two-week Annual Training exercise here July 7-19.

The 535th MP Bn. is an Army Reserves unit based in Cary, N.C. with a Detachment at Fort Bragg, N.C., the 138th Military Police Detachment who accompanied them on this trip. Unit leaders chose Fort Bliss for the hands-on training troops can receive on Task Force Outlaw's Detainee Operations lanes. The battalion Soldiers experienced that plus more, as several trickled through CLS, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and computer-simulated convoy live-fire training.

Soldiers had their own unique personal experiences here and each favored a different part of training.

Pfc. Nicole McCoy, military policeman with the 535th MP BN, played a casualty on the CLS lane and said it was the most fun she had training in a long time. She also enjoyed the Virtual Battle Space - a computer game which allows Soldiers to move in convoy elments and act against enemy snipers in Middle Eastern cities.

"I would say the VBS was probably my favorite," said McCoy. It lets you get to know different scenarios, get to do different positions ... and lets you know what you need to work on and what you're good at."

"[My favorite was] probably learning the BATS (Biometric Automated Tool Set) system, because I like computers," explained Pfc. Isaiah Baker, finance technician with the 138th MP Det. "This is fun too though - doing the video game simulator. It's kind of a tie between those two."

Spc. Franklin Jenkins, food service specialist with the 535th MP Bn. had a differenced opinion, taking a liking to the forced cell extraction and unarmed self-defense training received on McGregor Range, N.M.

"I spent eight years in the Marine Corps and then I came to the Army Reserves, so for me, doing the Detainee Ops. and the unarmed self-defense training, I enjoyed that more because it's a little more hands-on and aggressive," said Jenkins.

Though Detainee Operations was the primary focus for the trip to Fort Bliss, it was not the only segment of hands-on training the Soldiers received. McCoy commented on the CLS training's ability to create real-life scenarios and put the Soldiers' skills to the test.

"It was really good" said McCoy. "[It was] way more in depth than I've ever seen. ... The instructors were very well informed; they did a good job... very realistic."

The Soldiers offered more compliments to their training experience here for expounding upon their knowledge of military police operations and providing them with a wide range of skills to apply at their home station in North Carolina, no matter what their technical expertise.

"As a Soldier, you never know - when I deploy I might not even be working in my MOS, so I might be doing Detainee Operations," said Jenkins. "It was worthwhile; new training."

"You can use it as a Soldier and as a personal gain," said Baker. "It makes you more aware of things, because situations can occur and you might not have that much time to respond so you have to be quick on your feet. Therefore, it makes you a sharper thinker, and at the same time, it makes you have the discipline to wait for a reaction before you react.

"You can't not take this and use it to your advantage," said Baker.

Besides dealing with the Texas heat, which was an initial shock to the North Carolina Soldiers, this year's annual training proved itself to be interesting and enjoyable.

"It was an interesting, different AT," said Baker. "I enjoyed it. At first I didn't, because it's hot, but once we started training, it was a lot better than what I thought it would be. ... It's been fun."

"I liked it all because it's something different," said Jenkins. "It's hot, but it's different. ... This is a whole lot more fun [than last year's AT with the unit]."

"Oh yeah," said McCoy of having a good time here. "I love training. If I didn't have to go back to my family, I would stay out here for another month or two."

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