Bringing down the house
June 16, 2012
FORT IRWIN, Calif. -- As I slid up beside the house, it felt like my heart was about to thump through my chest or as if a bass drummer was keeping a constant beat on my heart. I tried remembering to slow down my breathing and try to maintain composure. The person closest to the door felt around it with his fingertips and found nothing. It was time to enter, but we weren't invited there for dinner -- we were there to kick a door down and execute our mission.
This is how Sgt. Kyle Chattin described how he felt when entering the mock house during Military Operations in Urban Terrain training at the National Training Center here June 12. He is assigned to 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division; the unit is in final preparation for their deployment to Afghanistan later this fall.
"I was a part of two raids when deployed to Iraq," said Chattin. "Each time I got butterflies in my stomach, but I remained calm and remembered what I learned during training."
The unit conducted the training in preparation for their partnership with Afghan National Security Forces role players. The scene was made as realistic as possible for the Soldiers as they dismounted their Stryker vehicles and provided cover to the other team tasked with raiding the houses.
Staff Sgt. Bryant Bamba, a pacific islander who wears a Ranger tab on his left shoulder, is a squad leader with 1st Bn., 38th Inf. Regt.; he explained the purpose of the training being conducted.
"We only raid houses that are believed to house high value targets," said Bamba, a native of Guam. "Once we find the targets, we capture them. We have to convey this message strongly to the security forces we'll be training."
Today's target was on the second floor of the last house they searched. He wore an Army uniform and didn't speak or put up a fight.
"This mission ended with us capturing a dummy, but in real life it won't be and we have to train in preparation for him to fight back," said Bamba who has deployed twice during his career.
Both leaders supervise Soldiers who have no combat experience and are training for the first time on how to enter a house. Chattin shared some tips he tells the Soldiers in order to get them focused when conducting this training.
"I tell them to slow down," said Chattin, a native of Long Beach, Calif. "If you take your time and remember what you learned there will be less confusion once inside."
Chattin then smirked and said that he has to continue to remind himself to slow down.
In the Army, the philosophy that,"Training is what we do, not something we do," is outlined in the leadership manual. But the Army also has ways to access the training and provide feedback on what can be improved and sustained.
Bamba believes that once you receive the feedback, you have to take it and use what was brought up the next time you train.
"Once we know what we're lacking on, we conduct more rehearsals and practice," said Bamba.
Bamba also ensures that everyone on his team is aware of every detail of the mission by sitting them down and going over it with them. He wants even the lowest ranking Soldier to be informed in case they have to assume a leadership role.
Personally for Bamba, taking this training seriously is one of his main concerns for his Soldiers, because he has lost close friends in combat who were doing similar missions.
"I keep their memory close to my heart in honor of the family and friends who loved them," Bamba said. "It reminds me that it's my obligation to preserve the lives of my Soldiers and myself."
Both Soldiers feel that their unit is prepared to conduct their mission of training security forces in Afghanistan. Chattin expressed that his emphasis on training in his unit is paramount.
"Our first sergeant puts training first, and he makes sure that his leaders pass that mindset along to everyone."