By Sgt. Jon Soles, MND-B PAOSeptember 29, 2009
BAGHDAD - Soldiers assigned to personal security details don't wait until they are in a convoy to think about how to respond to an enemy attack.
Soldiers of Company A, Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division who are assigned to the Division Operations PSD spent the morning, here, Sept. 25, rehearsing combat scenarios in the Engagement Skills Trainer to keep their combat skills sharp.
There are some advantages to using the EST as opposed to going to a live fire range, according to Staff Sgt. Robert Zulch, an infantryman assigned to Co. A.
"You don't have to spend all day at the range when you can do it in a couple of hours in the EST," said Zulch. "The range is, hands down, the ideal situation, but this is the closest thing to it."
What the range can't do is provide interactive scenarios based on actual combat situations that give Soldiers a chance to engage the enemy - on a giant video screen. But this is no game, argues Zulch.
"The scenarios were great. It shows my guys how to look for hostile intent, when to engage, when not to engage," said the native of Dickinson, Texas. "It shows how angry and how loud the crowd can get."
In most scenarios, the Soldiers faced a video screen filled with civilians and insurgents. In one scenario, an angry mob began throwing rocks at the Soldiers while snipers from nearby windows unleashed a volley of fire. The Soldiers had to instantly identify the insurgent gunmen and neutralize the threat without hurting the civilians. In each scenario, Zulch and his team "killed" the threats without harming a single civilian.
"It just shows the guys this is what you do when you make contact," said Zulch. "This shows what to look for when walking into a building."
The training is taken seriously by the Soldiers, as they shout status reports to each other and warn of any danger as they roll through the scenarios on the screen.
Spc. Adam Stewart, an infantryman assigned to Co. A, DSTB, 1st Cav. Div., said the scenarios presented at the EST were realistic and accurate of similar situations he has seen while on PSD.
"When we go out, we are always dealing with crowds," said Stewart, a native of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.
Following the training in the EST, the PSD Soldiers supplemented their weapons training with other useful training skill- surviving vehicle rollovers.
The Soldiers trained in the Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer (HEAT) and the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected Vehicle Egress Trainer (MET). Zulch said the marksmanship and rollover training was all accomplished in one day.
"We had a day of PSD training, HEAT and MRAP rollover training all before noon," said Zulch.
Though no actual rounds are fired, and no vehicles have actually rolled over, the PSD Soldiers continue to rehearse and prepare themselves for anything that may happen on their next mission.