By Staff Sgt. Gina Vaile-Nelson, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentJune 11, 2009
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - Running the APFT is one thing ... but running in full battle-rattle from one station to the next and firing your weapon at the correct target all while having that crusty sergeant up your fourth-point-of-contact is another.
"I was moving kind of slow," said U.S. Army Spc. Michael Dickey, a soldier from Vicenza, Italy. "My sergeants were yelling at me, but that's what they are supposed to do. It motivates me, makes me better."
Dickey and 70 other Sky Soldiers from the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, ran through a stress-fire lane at the Grafenwoehr Training Area (GTA), May 9, 2009.
"I was worn out," Dickey said, after completing the six-station exercise that tested the Soldiers physical ability to work in a stressful environment.
Soldiers assembled their M-4 rifle at the start of the training lane then ran to the first station where they knocked down two targets. The Soldiers then conducted the three-to-five-second rush to a second checkpoint where they engaged targets from the prone position.
Once the objective was cleared, Soldiers had to walk and fire to the third station. At this station, Soldiers were met with a 200-pound dummy that needed to be moved to the fourth checkpoint.
At the fourth point, Soldiers called in a nine-line-MEDEVAC for the patient then engaged two more targets. After low-crawling to the fifth station, the Soldiers - nearly out of breath already - engaged the final two targets, secured a water jug and ran it to the sixth and final station.
"They are pretty smoked by the time they get to that final station, but they like what they are doing," said Staff Sgt. Aaron Key, a fire support NCO and lane safety from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team."It definitely gives them an idea of what it's like to have to run up a mountain and engage a target."
The Sky Soldiers conducted training at Grafenwoehr in preparation for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
"The GTA provides a very unique training environment due to its size and the numerous ranges it has here," said 1st Lt. Andrew Underwood, officer in charge of the training event. "Earlier this week we were able to qualify Soldiers and now we're able to conduct stress shoots like this, as well as, buddy live fires."
Underwood said the training was a success for his Soldiers, many of whom have not deployed before.
"The facilities and training lanes have definitely improved over the years. You can look out here and see this training lane isn't exactly realistic, but it gives the Soldiers an idea of what they will encounter down range, said Key, a combat veteran, who had trained at the GTA between 1999 and 2000. "We can do pretty much anything on these ranges. From small arms, up to artillery mortars and cavalry, so the 173rd gets some good training out here."
The 173rd comes to Grafenwoehr at least twice a year to conduct squad live fires, qualification and zeroing, he said.