By Michelle OwensAugust 1, 2008
A group of Soldiers ready themselves for a street patrol in Iraq. Merchants and locals roam the streets, but something is unsettling. Then, the screech of a mortar round ends in an explosion and all the patrollers hit the ground and run for cover. The battle begins.
Situations like that are just some of the training scenarios Advanced Individual Training Soldiers receive during warrior tasks and battle drills. A recent training exercise Saturday helped prepare the A Company, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment students for today's battlefield.
This weekend's warrior tasks and battle drills allowed Soldiers to receive realistic simulated training in marksmanship, urban and convoy operations. Combatives, which involves hand-to-hand combat, is also part of the training, but is conducted at different times during the Soldiers' training.
The Army-mandated training requires that Soldiers complete reinforcement training in the four events before reaching their first units, according to Capt. Jason Billington, C Company, 1st Bn., 13th Avn. Regt. Commander and officer-in-charge of the event.
"The reality of it is, in very short time, many of these Soldiers could find themselves in those scenarios, so our focus is really honed in on what they need to know to operate in that environment," he said. "We're always looking for better ways to frame the training and we use new (tactics, techniques and procedures) and try to mimic a real combat environment."
In order to offer realistic training, C Company Soldiers, who are tasked with organizing the training, use lessons learned and teach about what Soldiers are dealing with on the battlefield such as operating in a chaotic environment and detecting and reacting to both stationary and vehicle-born improvised explosive devices, 1st Sgt. Ernest Gunter, event noncommissioned officer-in-charge, said.
During the daylong training, Soldiers perform the three events round-robin style. Soldiers react to an ambush, evacuate casualties, learn to communicate effectively and neutralize the threat during convoy operations. Simulated weapons training at the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 allows Soldiers to practice the marksmanship through traditional pop up targets, shoot/don't shoot scenarios and group simulations. Urban operations training take place at the post forward operating base in which Soldiers are required to clear buildings, distinguish civilians from insurgents, and maneuver teams through the mock village while music, animal sounds and crowd noises resonate down the street.
While the training teaches Soldiers how to operate in a real-world environment, it's a welcome change-of-pace for many of the students.
Following training, Pvt. Lindsay Hopwood, 18, from Harrisburg, Penn., talked about her favorite event.
"I enjoyed everything. I loved the action," she said. "I'll definitely have to say the urban operations was my favorite (training experience) because of the intensity and adrenaline rush ... you don't know what or who is going to be on the other side of the door."
Pfc. Josh Lecomte, a 20-year-old Soldier from Jefferson City, Mo., said convoy training topped his list of favorites.
"It's a little hot, but we're getting through it and staying motivated," he said. "It was nice and cool for the urban operations and convoy exercise this morning, but overall, the convoy was my favorite. We were moving a lot and people (engaging us) and we were shooting back. I was part of the medic team so we were running around and having a good time."
Pfc. Tyler Shelton, 20, said he liked the realistic urban operations event the most.
"I really enjoyed getting out and doing some real Army 'hooah' stuff this morning. It's fun," the Bowling Green, Ky., native said.
Saturday's training was a collaborative event for the battalion, Billington said. Many noncommissioned officers support the battalion's warrior tasks and battle drills exercise.
"We really try to put our best foot forward and make every effort to provide the best training we can for these Soldiers because we know the impact it's going to have and that they're going to need it in potentially a very short time," he said. "We operate with that in mind - in the classroom and in the field - knowing that this is the next group of Soldiers who are going to be (on the battlefield)."
AIT Soldiers must use everything they learned at Saturday's warrior tasks and battle drills and put it to use at the three-day culminating field training exercise (FTX), Gunter said.
"The FTX is intended to build on what they learned today," he said.