Ghost Avalanche II
Soldiers from 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, engage enemy targets during their recent Ghost Avalanche II training exercise at Fort Drum, N.Y.

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (April 12, 2012) -- The past month could definitely be described as "March Madness" for scouts of 1st Brigade Combat Team's 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment. This reconnaissance unit spent four weeks in the field conducting a series of exercises known as "Ghost Avalanche II."

During Ghost Avalanche II, scouts were trained in the skills of gunnery and squad-level exercises before moving on to conduct a platoon live-fire exercise. The purpose of this month-long training was to qualify gunners and crews on their respective weapon systems during day and night operations and to ensure that all 1-71 Cavalry Scouts are qualified and prepared for combat.

"Each platoon has their strengths and weaknesses," said Sgt. 1st Class Sophal Saing, first sergeant for B Troop, 1-71 Cavalry. "We need to get back to building our Soldiers' tactical and technical knowledge, and this training gives us a baseline to build upon."

Throughout the month-long exercise, Scouts qualified on several weapon systems, including the MK-19 grenade launcher and M-240B machine gun. This qualification ensures that crews and gunners are ready to shoot live rounds while maneuvering during the platoon live-fire. More importantly, the weapons qualifications help scouts prepare to use those weapon systems in combat.

"Live-fire gunnery is always a positive, because it allows us to get hands-on time with our weapon systems," said Spc. Koby Caulmare, a gunner for 3rd Platoon, A Troop.

Simultaneously, other scouts were conducting squad-level exercises. In one exercise, a section was required to maneuver several hundred meters towards a house where suspected enemies were located. They were required to identify a certain number of enemy targets in order to engage; they were required to remain undetected while doing so.

"Some platoons are very strong at the gunnery and weak at dismounted operations," said Saing. "This intensive training allows us to assess and build up unit cohesion on all levels."

This challenge was compounded by the fact that booby-traps had been placed near the suspected enemy haven and the weather had turned to near white-out conditions. Rather than cave under the pressure of adversity, the scouts used the grueling weather conditions to stay true to the squadron motto and remain "In the Shadows" to complete their mission.

"This really was a worthwhile training event for my platoon," said 1st Lt. Christopher Frederick, platoon leader for 3rd Platoon, A Troop. "It provided me a great picture of where we are and where we are going and I could not be more proud of the improvements I saw over the course of the past month."

Page last updated Thu April 12th, 2012 at 00:00