By 2nd Lt. Nathaniel BeLilesFebruary 23, 2017
BUTLERVILLE, Ind. -- Soldiers with Company B, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division conducted a company validation training exercise at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville, Indiana, Feb 7-10.
Company B, "Bushmaster," deployed to MUTC for a 72-hour continuous mission to train for their upcoming East African Response Force mission.
"The purpose of the East African Response Force is to quickly and rapidly provide tailorable packages of forces to protect American interests on the continent of African should any threats arise," said Maj. Bo Reynolds, operations officer, 1-327th.
The exercise was organized and validated by 1st BCT staff in preparation for the company's upcoming deployment to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Currently, Company C, 1-327th, is deployed to Djibouti supporting the EARF mission.
"With the current company working forward on this mission as the EARF, we leveraged real-world experiences and interactions with the Department of State and interagency partners to provide a realistic training venue at MUTC for Bushmaster," said Reynolds.
Information provided by Bushmaster's sister company gave vital feedback that drove the training scenarios such as: embassy security contingencies, evacuation of embassy personnel and ambassador, nongovernmental organization interaction, humanitarian aid missions, and host nation force relationships.
Throughout the training exercise, Bushmaster Soldiers received mission information from battalion and brigade command posts with intelligence updates that drove each scenario.
"While in the training environment we were able to test ourselves to determine our shortcomings, to carry out missions that are not kinetic in nature that require a different mindset to accomplish our EARF mission," said 1st Sgt. Christopher Jackson, Company B, 1-327th.
The MUTC training site is a self-contained community with over 1,000 acres, a flooded community and a complex of 68 major buildings covering 850,000 square feet, including an urban canyon, industrial and residential complexes. The site is littered with destroyed cars, burned buildings and other debris to simulate the challenges of working in an urban setting.
"The ability to immerse our guys in a large, complex urban environment opened their eyes to how large of a scope and number of factors it will take to accomplish their mission," said Jackson. "The training gave platoon leadership a different look and forced them to plan for contingences to accomplish their mission in an environment similar to MUTC."
During the validation exercise, Bushmaster began by infiltrating a mock embassy to establish security due to growing hostile unrest in the local population and increased attacks by local nationals against host nation forces. The complete immersion into an offset embassy location allowed for maximum training of real-world scenarios.
"Their role is very much centered on security operations aligned with Department of State organizations and officials," said 1st Lt. Jacek Zapendowski, lead planner of East African Response Force validation exercise for 1-327th. "A huge piece for them is communicating with the organizations within the embassy itself."
Enemy forces and host nation civilians, played by fellow 1-327th "Bulldog" Soldiers, were placed throughout the urban training area to conduct probing attacks and assaults while Co. B executed their missions.
The successful defense and evacuation of embassy personnel, while under fire, signaled the completion to the validation exercise, but showed Bushmaster readiness and resolve to take over the EARF mission as their next "Rendezvous with Destiny."
1st BCT is the Regionally Aligned Force supporting U.S. Army Africa events and exercises across the African continent this year. USARAF brings the Army team to assist U.S. partners in building ready forces and operating as part of a multi-national coalition.