By Staff Sgt. Mark A. Moore IIAugust 14, 2015
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Aug. 14, 2015) -- Five platoons from two companies participated in the exercise that tested their adaptability and critical think skills by challenging them to overcome last minute mission changes, vehicle route deviations, weapons and vehicle malfunctions, and a surprise tear gas attack during Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) training.
Adding an additional layer of complexity to their mission, the day and time of their mission, vehicles to be used, and final patrol base site were kept secret until they were telephonically alerted.
On the receiving end of one 2 a.m. phone call was 1st. Lt. Matthew Lahti, 4th platoon leader, A Company, who rallied his platoon and prepared to "deploy" rapidly to an unknown location.
"Our mission today is to set up a patrol base," he explained. "What we are doing today is preparing to fight a more modern force in the future."
Lahti expressed that a big part of the Army's ability to overpower its enemies is the speed at which it can deploy anywhere in the world. Something he says this exercises will better condition his platoon to accomplish.
"The drills we are conducting will help us improve our speed, making us competitive not only with the other companies, but with other nations that we might be called upon to defend."
While speed remains a critical element of gaining the high ground of any linier battle field, this exercise also allowed the battalion to cross check their vehicle maintenance fault reporting systems to ensure deficiencies are being reported.
"This (exercise) is really about seeing ourselves and where we can fix deficiencies and where those deficiencies are," stated Lt. Col. Jason P. Affolder, commander, 210th Brigade Support Battalion. "This platoon didn't know which trucks they were supposed to dispatch this morning, they didn't even know they were going to participate today."
He continued to explain the vehicles used during Lahti's mission were selected from a weekly report identifying equipment as being fully or not fully mission capable.
"Ideally we would have seen every truck on that list we gave this morning, but we didn't," said Affolder. "This indicates that communication could be broken down at the platoon or company level."
Assisted by the maintenance section Lahti's platoon set forth to correct the vehicle deficiencies that were holding them back from starting their convoy.
"We are working around these issues, but as far as the people we've had present today and for the first time conducting a readiness drill in my memory, I think it has been going pretty well," stated Lahti.
He continued to explain an additional strain his platoon felt due to many of his Soldiers conducting other missions.
Further planned resistance was met when his convoy was issued a fragmentation order that directed them to change their course to circumnavigate enemy troop movement.
"He responded rapidly to the change of mission," said Capt. David Ellington, commander, A Company. "Lahti re-plotted his route in under three minutes, which is the fastest time we have seen this far."
Arriving at their patrol base Lahti's platoon established perimeter security, conducted vehicle recovery drills and reacted to a surprise tear gas attack. An event that brought the seriousness of this training event to life.
"I can't remember the last time we've done CBRN training," stated Sgt. Enrique Goodridge, petroleum supply specialist. "To actually do it and refresh how serious it can be was pretty good."
The drill concluded with an after action review where they discussed what went right and what could have went better when operating in a simulated decisive action environment.
"The single most important thing about this event is teaching leaders that you can accomplish a lot in a one day period," stated Affolder. "A wide variety of tasks and checks on systems that can be used to assess yourself and plan future training."