Story and photos by Spc. Kelvin Johnson
40th Public Affairs Detachment
Soldiers from the 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division collaborated with the New York Police Department (NYPD) Emergency Service Unit (ESU) to learn the nuances of close-quarters combat on July 14-15 at the U.S. Military Academy.
The Soldiers stood poised and determined as they readied themselves to infiltrate a three-story stone building with multiple rooms. The building was dimly lit with notional armed enemies waiting for the opportunity to strike.
“Close-quarter combat training is important because when entering a building with the unknown on the other side of that door, each (man or woman) must be ready to execute their role,” Sgt. Aaron Hinson, a squad leader with the 187th, 3rd BCT. “We do not have the opportunity to train in these environments as much, so it is good to do it at every opportunity.”
A Soldier would shout, “Room Clear!” as they made their way through the narrow corridors of the building, neutralizing any notional threats along the way.
When entering a room, a Soldier must check what close-quarter specialists refer to as ‘danger spots,’ or corners at the end of a corridor. If the door is near a corner, a Soldier yells, ‘corner fed-room,’ which indicates that they are entering a door that is located in one of the corners of the room.
Everyone must move swiftly. Suppose there is an armed adversary in the room waiting to harm the first Soldier and the second Soldier did not enter quickly enough to cover the first Soldier’s blind spot. In that case, the enemy can gain the upper hand by injuring the first Soldier and disorienting the team.
“(We) seasoned guys have done enough training to understand how (close-quarter combat) is done. However, we do not train as much as the NYPD ESU. They will catch small mistakes that we are likely to miss,” Hinson said. “This is their daily job. They are the best in the world at what they do. So, every tip they gave us is helpful and prepares us for the future fight.”
Hinson added that having the NYPD assist during the training was beneficial not only to junior enlisted Soldiers but also to noncommissioned officers.
“Close-quarter combat is our comfort zone. We are here to help fix the small mistakes that could cause casualties in the field,” Lt. Keith Gallagher, with NYPD ESU, said.
With Soldiers having a fundamental understanding of close-quarter combat, this allowed the NYPD to assist and bring a new perspective into the training.
“Even though we both deal with perpetrators in that tactical environment, we wanted to demonstrate that there are other ways to get the objective done from a police action/ peacekeeping mission,” Gallagher said.
Little tips on how each Soldier’s role impacts the team movement helped improve the Soldier’s ability to navigate the compact environment. Another interesting tip that stuck with the Soldiers is how an open door along a corridor or within an unexplored room has a higher causality probability than a closed door, Hinson said.
“The NYPD has helped us out a lot. We move so much better as a team now,” he added.
Gallagher concluded that training the Soldiers was a learning experience for him and that he was honored and thrilled to support the 101st Airborne Division.
“These Soldiers moved with a purpose,” Gallagher added. “Even though we have only trained for two days, the Soldiers demonstrated high motivation, discipline, and interest in what we were teaching.”