By Vince Little, The BayonetApril 30, 2010
FORT BENNING, Ga. - Soldiers in their second week of basic combat training were introduced to day and night land navigation Tuesday on Sand Hill.
The group from B Company, 3rd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, learned how to use "buddy team" movement techniques, get into hasty fighting positions, build a field-expedient shelter, and identify fire sectors, dead space and prominent landmarks, drill sergeants said. About 135 Soldiers took part in the training.
A day earlier, they practiced reading maps, plotting points and marking terrain features. In the field, the trainees had to locate five points up to 800 meters away during day land navigation, which tested their ability to use a compass and stay on a straight line over hills and different terrain.
"It's a little more complicated than it sounds - especially through all this thick brush," said SSG Robert Hordern, a drill sergeant.
Soldiers were required to find three positions in the night portion, without flashlights.
In between the day and night sessions, the Soldiers got additional instruction as drill sergeants kept them engaged on land-navigation tasks with concurrent training at four separate stations.
Trainees were taught how to dig foxholes quickly and get underground. They learned about plotting key geographic points on a range card. The Soldiers also worked with three different hooches during a field-expedient shelter class, putting them up with and without sticks and trees to gain waterproof protection on the battlefield under nightfall.
At the "buddy team" movement station, Soldiers worked in pairs on fire, cover and maneuver procedures. Hordern said it's a precursor to buddy-team live fire later in the cycle when they'll engage multiple targets in tandem.
"I believe land navigation is incredibly important," Hordern said. "You're not going to be carrying a computer around with you on the ground. And computers can go down anyway.
"I used this on patrol in Afghanistan. Every time you dismount, you've got to use a map and compass. It's something they will see again, no matter where they go from here in the Army."
SSG Pablo Colon, a 3rd Platoon drill sergeant, said land-navigation tools are vital to all Soldiers.
"It's always good to know the basics of a map, compass and protractor - and how to use it," he said. "You can't always rely on computers. Land navigation is one of those basic skills every Soldier should know."
The Soldiers will test the new tactics in a field-training exercise next week. Graduation is June 17.