Lightning Soldiers prepare for upcoming fighting season
January 28, 2011
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan -- Under the beaming rays of the morning sun Jan. 24, Soldiers with Combined Task Force Lightning rehearsed reacting to enemy contact while on a dismounted foot patrol. Their primary mission is to provide security for the brigade commander when he leaves the forward operation base.
The Personal Security Detachment assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade based at Fort Bragg, N.C., trained on mounted and dismounted patrol procedures in an effort to prepare for the anticipated surge of violence from insurgent forces as the cold weather fades away in Afghanistan.
Sgt. 1st Class Tom Brady, noncommissioned officer in charge of the PSD said the team practiced maintaining a 360-degree security around the principal, which in most cases is the brigade commander. He said the purpose of the exercise is for his Soldiers to practice how to effectively communicate with one another, sometimes only using hand signals, and to make sure no one penetrates their perimeter, placing the commander at risk.
Brady shared his vast knowledge with the team. For example, telling them he witnessed the enemy use children, women, and even mentally challenged people as suicide bombers in Iraq.
"If it doesn't feel right and you see something you might consider a threat, put it down," said Brady. "Assess the situation. Take well aimed shots, not just spray and pray."
Brady told the group of infantrymen and cavalry scouts to take the training seriously. He said once the weather gets warmer, the attacks on U.S. forces will increase.
"The enemy is very unpredictable, and I don't want to lose any of my guys," said Brady.
During the different scenarios, the security team practiced using hand signals, reacting to enemy contact, providing first aid and evacuating casualties.
First Lt. Andrew Beckwith, officer in charge of the PSD, 525th BSB, said the training is vital for the team in case of an elevated threat. He wanted to keep the training relevant and said it is always good to train for the worst-case scenarios.
Beckwith told his team to exercise tactical patience and praised them for having good weapons discipline. "I have confidence in you to do the right thing."
The Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected All-Terrain Vehicles the PSD use to move throughout the city are new to Beckwith and his team. He said he had never seen them prior to deploying to Afghanistan.
"They are definitely more armored compared to the Humvees," Beckwith said. "They are saving a lot of lives."
One exercise involved rehearsing security for a key leader engagement. It began with a convoy brief as if the team were going to leave the FOB. They lined up the vehicles in a tactical formation and drove them to an area where, once dismounted, they walked in their security posture constantly looking out for anything out of the ordinary.
Pfc. Jacob Cawley, assigned to the PSD, 525th BSB, said he enjoys working in the detachment. He said being flexible is key to being on the team.
"They are good guys that got your back," Cawley said of his teammates.
Cawley said communicating effectively is vital in the event of an incident.
"Today's training was good to prepare us for the unexpected."