Lightning and Thunder - Battalion military police train to defend
June 1, 2011
FORT GREELY, Alaska -- The military police humvee rattled down the road of the missile defense complex just as it usually would any other given time. The night was crisp and the clouds had rolled in but it was still light enough to see the outlying fences. As the vehicle rounded the end of Alpha Sector, a loud bang rang out as an artillery round exploded. Seconds later there were insurgents over the fences and onto the complex. This was definitely a night not like any other.
That was the effect the leadership of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade (Ground-Based Midcourse Defense) and the 49th Missile Defense Battalion was going for during the Global Lightning exercise held here Apr. 29-May 3.
Soldiers from the 100th MDB, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., went to Alaska to help the 49th MDB in putting on this annual exercise. Various planned "attacks" on Fort Greely’s missile defense complex were acted out to test the skills and proficiency of the Solders in the 49th MDB’s military police security company.
"Our primary purpose here is to test the 49th Missile Defense Battalion," said Col. Gregory Bowen, 100th MDB commander. "We typically do this once a year where we as a brigade headquarters come up here and run the battalion through its paces and give the battalion commander a good outside set of eyes on the result of his training program."
The scenarios in the exercise make the Soldiers use that training and try to find ways to get them out of their comfort zones to see how they do under pressure.
"We want to be able to really put together a scenario that will run the full gamut and test all their functions, from emergency procedures to actual combat operations, but also testing personnel actions, supply and logistics and actually supplying for the warfighters on the ground, so we're testing full spectrum," said Command Sgt. Maj. Russ Hamilton, command sergeant major of the 100th MDB.
The mission and goal of the brigade was to provide realistic training, while keeping everyone involved safe.
"I would deem this exercise a success as completing this exercise with zero safety incidents or zero injuries and getting a chance to evaluate each of these collective tasks that we set out to evaluate.
During the exercise, there was allotted time for stop-on corrections where needed.
"By being here we are able to coach, train and mentor them when we do see things that need to be improved," said Bowen.
The Soldiers who participated got to put their training into actions helped their platoon sergeants see how well they are training their Soldiers.
And for 2nd Platoon, they looked like they were trained well.
"I think the exercise went very well, I am proud of my Soldiers," said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Carson, platoon sergeant, 2nd Platoon.
During the four days, Carson's Soldiers of the second platoon encountered a vehicle breakdown and rollover, an active shooter situation, several attacks, had to perform first aid on nominal casualties and had to handle a bomb threat.
"All the ones who were evaluated did really well. So I'm happy; they did a real good job," said Carson.
Since the brigade is headquartered in Colorado Springs and has operators working in California and Alaska, getting to work together can be a challenge. But exercises like Global Lightning 11 allow all the moving parts to get to see each other.
"Any chance to work with higher headquarters face-to-face is good," said Lt. Col. Joe Miley, commander, 49th MDB. "We tend to be an electronic society and of course we have the tyranny of geography. There is a long distance between here and the 100th in Colorado Springs, as well as 88th Troop Command in Anchorage, which are our two brigade headquarters." (The unit falls under both the Alaska National Guard and the 100th MDB.)
After the four days were concluded, the staff from the 100th put together their assessment of the 49th MDB's MP Company and submitted it to the commander for his review. Then they had an after action review to discuss the exercise. Through comments made during the AAR, it looked as though the training at the battalion level was to standard.
"I am very proud of them (2nd platoon), it's not because of me, and it's because of the things that the squad leaders and team leaders are out there doing every day," added Carson. "Every shift, every cycle, we do training and physical training and we are going to have to obviously work on our communications over radio and other things but other than that, I am very proud of them and we just have to sustain that and keep it going."