FORT HOOD, Texas - After a soft landing, the back door of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter lowers, unleashing a wave of Soldiers on the outskirts of a city.
With their objective in front of them, they sprint to the closest building for cover. Seconds later, shots are fired.
Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division performed a military operations on urban terrain exercise in a simulated town here Jan. 27.
"Training like this is extremely important," said 1st Lt. Charles Lord, a Baltimore native and platoon leader with Company B, 2-7 Cav. "Without this type of training, I don't think we will be as prepared to deploy overseas. This allows us to refine our standard operating procedures and implement new ones as we see fit."
The company leadership knew that in order to establish basic infantry fundamentals, the training needed to progress incrementally, starting at the team level and moving all the way up to a full-on platoon operation that could seize the town from enemy control.
"We started out with individual techniques and tactics and moved up to a team, a three- to five-man element," said Lord. "The second week, we did squads, a nine to 10-man element, to platoon maneuvers, which is three squads. This is the culminating exercise, the platoon hitting the town by itself."
The exercise started with Soldiers being flown into the area on two aircraft. In addition to the expected excitement of the training, many of the Soldiers had never rode in a helicopter before, so that element only added to the nervousness.
"The adrenaline is really high at that point," said Spc. Jordan Schulze, a Las Vegas native and squad leader with 2-7 Cav. "We are coming in, and we don't know what's going on."
Three squads, each consisting of about 10 Soldiers, put the knowledge they learned from the last three weeks of training into use by going from building to building, eliminating the opposing forces as they encountered them.
"This is really valuable because these are the types of buildings you see overseas," said Lord. "The unpredictable aspect of this just helps us be prepared."
For the platoon to be successful, many things have to be done right, but one of the most important elements is communication.
"The squad leaders were pushing me the information as fast as I could handle it," said Lord. "Then I was able to push it up to my company commander to let him make decisions."
Due to the ever-changing nature of war, Lord had to ensure his squads were in the right areas at the right time; a matter of only a few minutes could make the difference between neutralizing the enemy and receiving casualties.
"I think it actually went really well, because it was basically flawless up until we encountered the large building with a large enemy force, but we handled that appropriately," said Schulze. "My thoughts were where were the other two squads in relation to mine; what are my teams doing; and where we are clearing."
To add to the realism, Soldiers used simulated rounds, a nonlethal training ammunition. When a Soldier was hit, the team would begin patching their simulated wounds and evacuating them.
"They didn't let the enemy's numbers or resistance slow them down any," said Lord. "It's like any other team, if you don't practice, you're not going to do well when it's game time."