By Spc. Monica K. Smith, CAB Public AffairsFebruary 5, 2009
An alarm sounds and a group of 10 Soldiers quickly find and don their protective masks. The first to finish begins waving his hands giving the "gas, gas, gas," hand and arm signal till an instructor finally announces "all clear."
This is not a real event; it is only a test.
It is day three of Knighthawk Stakes, a training exercise for Soldiers in 2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment. The exercise began Jan. 27 and took place at Saber Hall on Hunter Army Airfield.
"You can't wait till you need to know a task, befoe you try to learn it," said Spc. Erik Walters, a crew chief in Company B, 2/3 Avn. "We're getting a lot of new people in the battalion. We have to make sure they are trained and ready to do these tasks, so we can be sure that they can do it when they're called upon. I personally teach a class on the installation of the canister on the pro-mask, and I cover responding to a nuclear attack.
Other classes that are covered are responding to chemical and biological attacks, putting on (mission-oriented protective posture) gear, MOPP gear exchange and first aid, which includes the atropine auto-injectors."
The stakes also includes training on communication, medical, M9 and M16 weapons and combat survivor evader locator skills.
The previous two Knighthawk Stakes were conducted while the unit was deployed in Iraq, making this stakes the first the unit has done since their return home last July.
"The ones we did in Iraq were competitions," said Walters. "There it was about getting through the task and seeing who was the most proficient at it. Now, instead of testing proficiency, we're training and teaching proficiency."
"This is to refresh us on warrior task skill sets," said Capt. Antonio Blue, who works as the battalion S3 and organized the stakes. "With the influx of new Soldiers, some of them coming right out of school, this event exposes them to weapons, (nuclear, biological and chemical), and medical tasks they will need to know."
Blue said the stakes are described as "crawl, walk, run," with crawl describing the level one tasks performed during this Knighthawk Stakes. Time permitting, the battalion will gradually move to the "walk" and "run" stages representing additional Knighthawk
Stakes, which will incorporate higher level tasks. Blue said 75-80 percent of the battalion participated in the stakes, which he said was a success.
"It was all Soldier led," said Blue. "These instructors busted their butts to get their classes done and that's what made it a success. I can't take all the credit."