Practice makes perfect
May 18, 2011
Soldiers from Headquarters Battalion Command, assigned to Headquarters Company, U.S. Army and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, the Pentagon, and Joint Base Bolling-Anacostia, Md., have been downrange since May 2 participating in Army warrior training at the Army's Sustainment Center of Excellence, Warrior Training Center, Fort Lee, Va.
The first iteration of JBM-HH Soldiers were in formation before sunrise May 2, making the journey to the southern command near Petersburg for two days of classroom and hands-on training with certified training instructors at the center.
The Warrior Training Center's mission is to train Soldiers, noncommissioned officers and officers on core tasks and battle drills needed to execute missions and survive on the modern battlefield, according to the center's mission statement.
Soldiers experienced two days of extensive training, including combatives, reflexive fire, weapons management, squad movement techniques, Engagement Skills Trainer (EST 2000), virtual convoy, weapons maintenance and high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (HMMWV) Egress Assistance Trainer (HEAT).
Instructors at the WTC are noncommissioned officers in ranks sergeant to master sergeant and come from various areas of experience and job specialties. They are trained to be experts in subject matter taught to Soldiers. Master Sgt. Donald Davis is Fort Lee's AWT noncommissioned officer-in-charge and Staff Sgt. James Mills is the center's assistant NCOIC. The pair assigned 10 of the Army's best warrior training instructors to teach and critique Soldiers from JBM-HH.
''Another group of Soldiers went through the same two days training at the WTC May 5-6," said Sgt. 1st Class John Henry, S3 operations noncommissioned officer at Headquarters Battalion Command and NCOIC for the JBM-HH Soldiers training at Fort Lee.
Army Warrior Training is held eight times annually, said Headquarters Command Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Andrea Marks, who was at Fort Lee May 5 to mentor and observe Soldiers with Henry.
''We have Soldiers attending training for the first time and others who are repeating training," she said. ''Each year, they learn something new."
Henry said only four or five commands Army-wide have certified instructors. ''This is truly downrange," he said.
While at AWT, Soldiers are housed in barracks and eat meals at one of the installation's dining facilities.
The humidity was up with the sun as Soldiers trained all day in full Army combat uniforms. Soldiers helped one another secure full battle gear, including Kevlar helmets, IDTV protective vests and two sappy plates to protect Soldiers from small arms.
Training was held in a secure area of Fort Lee instructors nicknamed ''Candy Land" - a collection of prefabricated, partially furnished buildings, replicating homes in a village overseas - complete with old cars, gas pumps and other artifacts meant to simulate real-life scenarios during active combat deployment.
Instruction was given on the correct way to hold weapons and other tactics prior to dividing Soldiers into groups of four to simulate a raid on the enemy. AWT combatives instructors Staff Sgts. Kristi Delarosa and Kirk Hoxie taught squad movement techniques to the Soldiers in a simulated ''enemy village."
EST 2000 gave the Soldiers hands-on virtual training, utilizing a computerized screen the size of one in a grand old movie palace. Soldiers took their positions in front of weapons they locked and loaded. On command from AWT instructors Sgts. 1st Class James Laborde and Nicole Smith, the Soldiers fired at targets on a screen.
EST 2000 is the only small arms training system validated by the Army Infantry School, instructors said. It is purported to be the most accurate small arms training system available today. The device trains in marksmanship skills, squad level collective defense and assists in making ''shoot, don't-shoot" judgements. It is deployed in the Army's initial entry training for basic rifle marksmanship skills for all newly enlisted Soldiers.
The instructors said the trainer has the feel, sounds, weight, recoil and fit of the actual weapon.
Tactical Vehicle Rollover Prevention and Survival Training included class instruction and hands-on training on the HMMWV (HEAT).
Led by instructors Staff Sgt. Harold King and Sgt. Scott Colley, the training gave the Soldiers the chance to experience what it's like to be inside a tank which has rolled over at various degrees.
''Devices such as the HEAT trainer assists war fighters on the steps and procedures to egress from rolled-over vehicles," said King.
Once completely upside down, the Soldiers had to exercise their training in order to exit the vehicle safely. King also taught reflexive firing techniques and Scott led instruction on weapons maintenance with Staff Sgt. Colin Dayton.
''Overall the training we received was great and the Army Warrior Training instructors at Fort Lee were extremely knowledgeable," said Henry.
Training concluded late Friday afternoon when the Myer-Flyer bus filled with tired Soldiers eager to return to post and start their weekend. ''Training resumed with two other groups at Fort Lee on May 9-10 and May 12-13," Henry said.
Prior to the Soldiers return to JBM-HH, they received a safety briefing from 1st Sgt. Bruce Williams, noncommissioned officer in charge, H&H Co., USAG.