By Sgt. Jessica DuVernayOctober 23, 2018
FORT HOOD, Texas - Troopers from 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division along with Soldiers from around Fort Hood and outside of Texas learned how to fight, win and survive in dense urban terrain Oct. 15-19 at Fort Hood's underground training area.
The training was conducted by members of Mobile Training Team Alpha and Bravo from 3rd Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment and the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Ga. The Alpha team trains on planning for combat in dense urban terrain and is aimed at company commanders through brigade-level leadership while the Bravo team focuses on tactics at the company-level leaders including platoon and squad leaders.
Most of the training is focused on subterranean environment. Participants included infantry, medics, engineers, chemical and signal Soldiers as well as enablers such as Explosive Ordinance Disposal.
"The whole point is to implement the basic things that we do above the ground; underground," said 2nd Lt. Michael Wittmer, 3rd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3ABCT, 1CD. "Everything stays the same, it's a different environment; its dark, you cannot see--it's kind of the unknown. When you go into a building you can see how big the building is, but when you go underground, you can't see or understand the vastness of it. So its learning how to manage the unknown."
Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen Mark A. Milley, directed that the Army take a look at Dense Urban Environments and Dense Urban Terrain specifically. Part of the environment includes subterranean systems. The SubT environment, which dates as far back as the Civil War within American History, continues to be one that is complex and can create significant challenges for today's Soldier.
Subterranean MTT-Bravo has traveled across the globe training squad leaders to company commanders on how to fight in these types of environments. By the year's end, the team will have trained 26 Brigades across the Army.
"In the future, we don't know where our warfare will be," explained Capt. Grant Raber, Subterranean MTT-B Operations Officer, 3rd Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment. "We could be fighting in megacities and dense urban terrain and part of that is civilian infrastructure; whether that's subways or somewhere else, the adversary is going to use. We are teaching them tactics on how to operate in that environment."
With the nearly recent shift in warfare and the increase in populations worldwide, it is proactive of the Army to prepare Soldiers for what could be their future fighting environments.
Training specifically to fight in a subterranean environment enables joint forces to overcome some of the obstacles posed by urban canyons and congested city streets, and bring an element of surprise to joint urban operations.
The five-day training teaches company commanders down to squad leaders the tactics and techniques necessary in the complex environment. They learn how to plan for and execute various operations. They also learn to use some of the tools in the formation including a cutting torch. From there, leaders take what they have learned and train their Soldiers.
"For me it helps to get a better idea of what else is out there that needs to be taught," Staff Sgt. Adam Gonzalez, platoon sergeant, Charlie Troop, 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment. "It gives me an opportunity to bring the information back to my platoon and pass it off to the section leaders. It gives our Soldiers a better idea of what to expect also. I need them to know it isn't always going to be Bradleys and screen lines. There are definitely more things out there they should know."
Raber said that training at Fort Hood's underground training area has been great because some of the challenges his team faces is often the training space. "Sometimes we go to an area that does not have these capabilities and so the hardest challenge is providing an adequate training area, and getting the Soldiers to get their head in the game and play along," Raber said.
Despite the challenges, the team has still managed to successfully reach out and get these units trained, allowing the Army to maintain its lethality and improve readiness.