By Staff Sgt. Joel SalgadoJuly 22, 2015
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Soldiers from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, recently completed Operation Bulldog Blitz, a company-sized training exercise, here July 13-17.
"We realized we wanted to do a company air assault -- something this company hasn't done since they deployed to Afghanistan -- and we wanted to get after conducting a company-level attack," said Capt. Marc Deredita, commander of Co. B, also known as Dog Company. "We have a lot of new Soldiers who've never been on a helicopter before and throwing in a company attack on top of that added a level of realism that is the closest thing these guys will see to deployment if they never deploy."
The training exercise consisted of several infantry tasks ranging from tactical movement in urban and wooded terrain to urban operations; the key event being the company air assault into an urban environment.
The air assault would place two platoons at separate objectives -- each with their own unique situations for the assaulting troops to face. Adding to the challenge, both the Dog Soldiers and opposing forces -- or OPFOR -- would utilize man-marker rounds, a form of specialized paint rounds designed to fire from military small arms that show if a Soldier has been hit by enemy fire.
"Having an actual two-way conversation in a firefight is a lot different than a one-way on a live-fire range with targets just popping up and down," said Deredita. "We saw that a lot of these news guys being the first man in the room actually having an OPFOR fire back at them with these sim rounds -- it adds that level of fear, anxiety of am I going to get shot."
The three platoons split into two assault forces with the third platoon acting as the opposing forces on the two objectives. Each assaulting platoon boarded onto UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and was inserted near their objective.
Objective Gold, the larger of the two targets, consisted of a multi-story building and basement that would see the Dog Soldiers clear several rooms on multiple floors simultaneously. In the cramped confines of the building, the Soldiers never knew what was behind the next door or around the corner.
Objective Silver was comprised of a set of small buildings and a larger U-shaped building that had the assaulting forces move through a long, open corridor to make contact with the opposing forces.
Regardless of which objective they attacked, the Soldiers found themselves in a fast-paced series of short range engagements that put their training and leadership to the test.
"It was very fast -- very fast moving -- and there was a lot of different parts at different times," said 1st Lt. John McElvenny, 1st platoon leader, Co. B. "It took a lot of initiative from our team leaders being able to control the tempo of the fight depending on where they encountered the enemy -- being able to just make quick decisions, react to taking friendly casualties and still being able to maintain security while moving through the rooms."
After the assaulting platoons successfully completed their mission, each platoon was taken through the actions they performed by their graders, and the Soldiers and graders were given time to discuss areas of strength and areas that could use improvement in future operations.
After the entire company completed the air assault and served a rotation as the opposing force, they prepared for an evening conducting defensive operations and night-time assaults on an urban area.
They finished the rest of the week conducting similar missions in order to prepare the company's platoons for upcoming platoon live-fire training and a larger battalion-sized air assault mission planned for later in the year, and any future mission they may face.
"It's all about mission readiness, being prepared to deploy," said Deredita. "If we, as an air assault company, cannot provide our higher commander the ability for a rifle company to conduct an air assault and be discriminately lethal, then I feel like we're failing at our jobs."