By Ken Hall-IMCOMNovember 13, 2008
USAG-HUMPHREYS--About 100 American and Republic of Korea Soldiers worked side-by-side during Operation Iron Door, a two-day field training exercise here Nov. 5 and 6.
The training scenario between Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 194th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and ROK troops from 1st Battalion, 169th Infantry Regiment was designed to improve quick-reaction force tactics, medical mass-casualty operations, planning and coordination skills and provide troops from both units a look at how each force would operate together during real-world battlefield operations.
"We train all the time and this exercise has enabled us to see how the ROK Army trains and also give them the chance to see how we train and this operation is an exhibition to see how the training has paid off," said Pfc. Nicholas Vest, HHC 194th CSSB.
A handful of specially-tasked 194th Soldiers played non-uniformed, enemy fighters armed with automatic weapons, loaded with dummy rounds. These guerrilla-style fighters waited for up to several hours-at-a-time under cover of tree-lined brush, moving around the defensive perimeter of the troops' main base of operations before launching several attacks on U.S. and ROK forces on patrol throughout the event.
During one of the enemy attacks early in the exercise, the 194th captured the several enemy Soldiers; one prisoner managed to escape after being taken into custody by U.S. troops.
One transportation specialist, who recently returned from a year-long tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom said she's gained valuable insight of how troops from her new host nation work.
"This is the first time I've been in this type of exercise in Korea," said Staff Sgt. Sandy Reed, HHC 194th CSSB. "This training has helped us as Soldiers understand the skills we need to develop while learning how ROK forces operate with us as a joint, quick-reaction force."
The exercise included: tactical convoy operations, quick reaction force operations, nuclear, biological and chemical response, base defense, reacting to unexploded ordinance and civilians on the battlefield, night fire familiarization, and reacting to attacks from indirect fire, sniper fire and improvised explosive devices.
"It was a good exercise, but we could have had a better one," said Spc. Wanda Greenlee, HHC 194th CSSB. "We had enemy action at our location earlier today, lost a prisoner last night and we were told we would be having memorial service training at the end of the exercise."
For Greenlee and OIF Veterans in HHC 194th CSSB, the hardest part of the training came in the final hours when the battalion chaplain conducted a memorial service for one Soldier who "passed away" during the night from mock-enemy fire.
Greenlee said that her military veteran grandfather told her when she enlisted in the Army to prepare for times like these, and to understand the difference between 'practicing' a memorial service and living it in real life.
"I don't think I ever really understood what this would be like until the ceremony," said Greenlee. "We were all reflecting about different parts of the exercise, but when it came time for the ceremony to begin everything seemed really serious. It was like we were out in Iraq and I had really lost a really good battle buddy of mine whom I'd been serving with for the past year.
"Throughout the ceremony I kept flashing back to when I had lost one of my best friends as a civilian, and it somehow made the memorial 'training' ceremony so real that I had tears falling down my face," said Greenlee.
As the exercise wound down, the commander of HHC 194th CSSB offered his thoughts on the training.
"I wanted to see how we would link up with ROK forces in case we had to, because if something happened tonight, I want to know we can fight together no matter what happens," said 1st Lt. Pierre A. Alcider. "I was very happy to see how all the Soldiers reacted during the medical evacuation phase of the training. When someone got hit, it really warmed my heart to know we can at least keep the wounded alive," he said.
Several HHC 194th CSSB Soldiers recently completed Combat Lifesaver Training and Alcider said Operation Iron Door was a perfect time to develop that training under simulated battlefield conditions.
"I wanted to put my Combat Lifesaver Soldiers under stress, and see how they reacted because that's all we may have during battlefield conditions until the wounded can be properly evacuated and treated at a hospital," he said.
For Alcider and most of the HHC 194th CSSB Soldiers, it was the first time training side-by-side with ROK troops.
"Even though [they] are infantry and we are a combat sustainment support battalion, these guys have showed us what they can do and we put it all together," said Alcider. "The best part of this exercise is that we completed the training safely, without any injuries."