'Charger' tankers hone infantry skills
May 8, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas - "Death before dismount."
The traditional tanker adage has been thrown out of the window.
In today's modern warfare environment, tankers have been asked to dismount from their vehicles to fight insurgents on foot.
The 1-12 "Charger" Combined Arms Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, prepared tankers for their next deployment at the Elijah military operations in urban environments site at Fort Hood the week of April 28.
"You get the same thing out of this as you get out of any training," said Sgt. Daniel Kawakami, Co. D, who was raised in Elmira, N.Y. "They try to make it as real as possible."
Kawakami said he is used to being out of his tank while deployed.
"85 percent of the time I've been deployed, I've been on the ground," he said.
"The most important part of the training is getting a lot of interaction with the guys," said Spc. Jason Ware, native to Chicago. "This is our first time as a company putting everything together."
Capt. Damasio Davila, the Co. D commander, said the training "gets them to start thinking about the urban environment."
The training is "just getting them used to going up and down the stairs with all of their gear, getting them used to clearing rooms and doing the close quarters marksmanship," Davila said.
"It isn't traditional for them to be on the ground and clearing rooms, but they are doing it, and I would put them up against an infantry company or platoon," he said.
"Some of the younger guys like it, because they've been exposed to it in basic training," he said.
"I think it's interesting. It's definitely not what I signed up for," said Ware.
"The transition is rough, but it is happening, and they are able to get down on the ground and clear rooms," said Davila.
"It's not so much that they are having trouble clearing rooms, they know how to clear rooms," he said. "It's just that mentality, 'I'm a tanker, and that's what I do.'"
"I would definitely rather be on a tank," said Ware.
"In the beginning, I had a bunch of gripes and complaints," he said. "After a while, you have to do it anyway, so you might as well get it done."
"It is a double load, and it is tough some time, but when we get to MOUT sites like this we take advantage of it," said Davila.
Overall, the Soldiers still maintain their identity as tankers.
"I think it's a little bit easier for them to get back on the tank, because that's where their roots are," said Davila.