By Ms. Alexandra Shea (IMCOM)August 22, 2019
At McCrady Training Center a container village sits in an open field and acts as an urban warfare training site. Devoid of furniture within its buildings or cars parked nearby, it is a solitary site. Sailors outfitted in full body armor, M4 and M9 weapons stand within the gated compound in the center of the village keeping a watchful eye on the surrounding buildings and field on Aug. 19.
Suddenly an unfamiliar man dressed in jeans and a head wrap to obscure his features screams out in a foreign language. He pops out behind a small container building with tattered cloth windows and throws a small canister. White smoke starts devouring the north end of the sailor's compound.
"Gas at my 10 o'clock," shouted Lt. Cmdr. Adam Dickinson of the Navy Operational Support Center in Schenectady, New York. "He's running to my South."
Dickinson is one of 120 sailors currently being tested by drill sergeants and cadre of the 4th Battalion, 323rd Infantry Regiment, 98th Training Division. The unit who officially took over Task Force Marshall this past July. Their mission is to train reserve Navy personnel to become proficient in Soldier Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills.
"We are training individual Navy augmentees to fill combat roles. We are training them to meet Central Command's standards so there is no questions that they are capable of completing their mission," said Sgt. Robert Lewis, a drill sergeant with TFM. "It's going good. They are retaining what we are teaching them."
Throughout their two weeks of training, the sailors are taught a variety of skills they will be tested on during their final day of training, the culminating exercise. Back at the container village, Dickinson and his fellow shipmates are defending their base of operation from enemy forces. It is one of their tested tasks during the CULEX.
"Endex, Endex, Endex," shouted Derrick Manuel, support staff contracted to TFM. "Head to the back of the building so we can talk about what we learned."
Manuel discusses what the sailors encountered and how they handled the enemy forces who tested their compounds fortifications and attempted to overrun the compound. The sailors talked about the events of the raid and ways they could improve their proficiency at keeping their compound from being overrun and their shipmates from injury or death.
Only one of the sailors was injured during the raid, receiving a gunshot wound to his left thigh. The compound's quick reactionary force were able to apply a tourniquet, move him to a safe location and call for a medical evacuation flight. It took less than 10 minutes. The sailor survived the scenario due to the quick thinking of the QRF team and enjoyed a short rest in the shade of the compound while lounging on the litter he was carried away on.
Next, the sailors walked in a tactical formation to the next site, room clearing. Once arrived, Sgt. 1st Class Nick Barber, a TFM drill sergeant, took over the training and covered the basics of how to clear and search a room for enemy forces. Barber knows a thing or two about conducting searches, he is a police officer in his civilian career and frequently searches not only people but cars and residences in search of illegal firearms and drugs.
I was teaching how to enter and clear a building," Barber said . "These guys get to see this maybe once in their career. It's good for them to have this kind of familiarization so they can be used (for search and clearing) if needed."
Once Barber finishes showing the process of clearing a room using the "glass house" method, the sailors move onto real rooms with real doors.
With a swift kick and a loud bang, the sailors entered the room and successfully cleared it. They continued on to another room to help build the muscle memory of conducting these searches. The sailors were surprised on their last round of door kicking and clearing as they found an armed enemy combatant. Gun fire was exchanged but the sailors emerge unharmed and victorious. Mission complete.
The sailors spent their last day completing tasks they may need to use during their mobilization that included convoy operations, encountering chemical environments, building hasty fighting positions, reaction to direct and indirect fire from enemy forces, searching detainees, defending their base of operations from enemy forces and basic medical aid to name a few.
At the end of the day, the sailor's time with the task force will end. TFM personnel will have a few days to reset their equipment and enjoy a little personal time. For the sailors, they will clean and pack their gear and equipment and ship to their mobilization location. Some sailors will be shipped to Africa, the Middle East or major theater commands. Wherever the sailors may land, they are ready to accomplish their mission.
"These skills could save a Soldier, sailor, Marine or airman's life," said Staff Sgt. Marlon Huddleston, a drill sergeant with TFM. "They are professionals and they're ready."