'Climbing the Mountain' -- 479th FA provides mountainous operations training
February 27, 2013
FORT HOOD, Texas -- This region of the state may be right next to the Texas Hill Country, but it is not exactly mountainous. Nevertheless, the 479th Field Artillery Brigade, which provides training, readiness oversight and mobilization support to mobilized Army National Guard and Army Reserve units and active duty forces of all services here, also provides mountainous operations training to deploying units.
Operating in a mountainous region can create many new challenges for leaders and Soldiers with little or no experience in rugged, high-altitude environments. The mountainous operations class taught by the Warrior Training Platoon of the 479th Field Artillery Brigade's 1st Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment provides deploying Soldiers with a basic understanding of these challenges and ways to mitigate the risks associated with them.
The day-long block of instruction combines classroom lecture with hands-on practical training so Soldiers can practice tasks associated with operating in a mountainous environment. The mountainous operations class addresses critical considerations such as mountain classification, climate and weather characteristics, effects on personnel, and considerations for movement, communication, targeting and security.
"Learning about mountainous operations is a key piece to learning how to function properly as a Soldier in some of the toughest terrain the modern military has ever faced," said Staff Sgt. Lucas Bartz, an observer controller/trainer with the 1st Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment's Army Warrior Task Team. "Because of the typical training cycle that some Guard and Reserve units go through in a standard year, there is not always enough time prior to coming to Fort Hood to hit the detail necessary to make this type of training truly effective."
During the last six months, the Warrior Training Platoon has provided mountainous operations training to more than 625 Soldiers preparing for deployments to Afghanistan and other mountainous regions around the world. Most of these Soldiers have never had to operate in an environment like what they will see once they arrive at their mission location, but the mountainous operations class provides a basic foundation leaders can use to prepare their Soldiers and adjust their tactics, techniques and standard operating procedures to be successful.
"This makes our jobs as observer controller/trainers vital to the overall mission, as each of the units prepares to head overseas to countries such as Afghanistan and Somalia," Bartz said.
Mountainous operations training also introduces deploying units to other important tasks such as leader engagements, which are interactions between Army leaders and local leaders that further the unit's relations and intelligence-gathering capabilities; insider threats, which are indicators of threats posed by local or coalition forces and are also known as "green-on-blue" attacks; and how to transmit nine-line medical evacuation requests, a critical task that has been incorporated into all training.
Executing a successful medical evacuation in mountainous terrain requires a complete understanding and appreciation for the weather, altitude, wind and pick-up location. It also requires Soldiers to effectively and accurately relay pertinent information about injuries to medical evacuation elements. Soldiers in the mountainous operations class discuss all of these subjects and practice the tasks.
"When units leave Fort Hood, Texas, after training, you can rest assured that they are tactically and technically proficient," said Master Sgt. William Henderson, 1st Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment Army Warrior Tasks Team noncommissioned officer--in-charge. "The Warrior Training Platoon trains these Soldiers as if they were their own sons and daughters going to war."