FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – Well before dawn on Aug. 3, Soldiers from the scout platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, awoke and got ready for their challenging day. The Soldiers had to prepare for a four-mile ruck march uphill to start their mission.
Led by platoon leader 1st Lt. Sean White and platoon sergeant Staff Sgt. Dalton Lawnizack, the Soldiers had prepared for this grueling day of training for several months. The platoon’s leadership has continued to develop the readiness and discipline necessary for a scout to succeed, operating as the forward element for the battalion to recon and survey enemy encampments, artillery positions and movements.
Scouts have a unique and challenging mission. They operate forward of the main body, passing information on the enemy to the proper higher channels, providing their battalion commander the time and opportunity to direct his artillery and infantry elements to engage the potential enemy force.
But what would happen if the scout platoon encounters direct contact with the enemy while on their reconnaissance? Most of the time, the scout platoon operates forward of the main body with little direct support. Part of their training during this grueling day was to conduct a break contact exercise to cover each other as they bound back from contact.
When the scout platoon reached its mission location, members quickly adorned their faces with camouflage paint, geared up and began the staggered movement through the woods. The scouts used the contour of the terrain and foliage to maintain low visibility to reduce the chance of being spotted as they moved toward an overwatch position.
The scouts moved into fighting positions to conduct their assignment to examine the trench system with their binoculars. White, along with the radio telephone officer or a Soldier assigned with the platoon radio, communicated with officers from the battalion as the scouts evaluated the situation.
Suddenly, a shot rang out of the quiet wood line – a signal the scouts had been spotted. The scouts in the front returned fire to keep the enemy engaged while they sent team members bounding back to the wood line.
The communication flowed seamlessly throughout the platoon, as each time a duo bounded back, they yelled their status as they moved and provided covering fire for their teammates. Finally, the last two scouts moved back to the wood line, where the leaders gathered a quick report to check their Soldiers before the scouts stealthily moved through the terrain of the woods.
After returning to their rucksacks, the scouts gathered their gear for the next movement — a three-mile ruck march to their extraction point.
As they prepared to rappel onto a building, the scouts performed several test rappels into the field of their extraction zone from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.
Lawnizack, the platoon rappel master, ensured that each Soldier’s gloves and harness were ready before they were signaled to board the helicopter.
After loading onto the helicopter one last time, the platoon was transported to its next training objective: rappelling onto a building for infiltration. The Soldiers deployed onto the roof of the building and their exercise came to an end.
It was a grueling challenge for the scouts, who ruck marched more than six miles, engaged in a scouting mission and rappelled onto a building.