By Capt. Sam Ku, 2nd Battalion, 363rd Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, Division WestJune 26, 2013
McGREGOR RANGE, N.M. -- Throughout history, a forward operating base could be as elaborate as a castle or as simple as wagons pulled into a circle. Regardless of their construction, they shared a common purpose: to keep their inhabitants safe.
In the 21st century, downrange FOBs are still keeping service members safe. But deployed troops have to know how to defend their bases.
Recently, Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 363rd Armored Regiment, Task Force Black Scorpion, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West, conducted base defense operations at Contingency Operating Location Westbrook to prepare Air Force Class 14 for deployment in support of overseas operations.
Base defense operations training gives deploying units the skills to defend their forward operating base in case of an attack on the compound.
"It is important that any unit -- be it Air Force, Navy or Army -- that goes through our training lane is given all the information possible to make them as successful as possible," said Master Sgt. Jerry Silva, a senior trainer/mentor with Task Force Black Scorpion.
The training began with topics including entry control point, and personnel and vehicle searches.
"At first, I thought to myself, really?" said Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Webel, an emergency management superintendent with the unit. "Having deployed over 12 times, I was not excited about having to go through the basics again."
However, Webel quickly realized the importance of doing the basic training.
"The realism from the practical exercise was amazing," Webel said. "The scenarios that we had to respond to really kept us on our feet. We were given one thing after another, and had to react as quickly and as strategically as possible."
Task Force Black Scorpion ensured the training would be as realistic as possible.
"I was taken hostage as part of a scenario," said Airman 1st Class Tyler Mullins, a power production journeyman. "I really didn't see it coming. It was definitely realistic and eye-opening."
Civilian role players, artillery and grenade simulators, and opposing force units simulated an attack on the base.
"We never had a chance to work together like this before," said Air Force 1st Lt. Jordan Barber, a weapons officer. "This was a great training event that allowed us to see where we needed to improve as a group."
At the end of the training, Air Force Class 14 had a better understanding of not just base defense, but of each other.
"In the end, it is all about the unit we are training," said Sgt. 1st Class Ernesto Gonzalez, base defense operations noncommissioned officer-in-charge for Task Force Black Scorpion. "We have to do everything we can to train and prepare them for operations overseas. That is our mission and our job."