FORT HOOD, Texas - As troopers from 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division began their movement into a small village, they noticed it not only looks like Iraq, but it sounds and even smells like Iraq. In reality it is far from the Middle East, for it is Boaz Combined Arms Combat Training Facility, one of a handful of MOUT (military operations in urbanized terrain) sites at Fort Hood, Texas.

Three reconnaissance troops from 6th Sqdn., 9th Cav. Regt. conducted partnered cordon and search missions in this training environment as part of a week-long brigade field training exercise Sept. 20-22.

Many challenges awaited the troops on this simulated battlefield to include enemy combatants, civilians roaming the town square and even a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. The town consisted of multiple structures to include a municipal building, mosque, hotel, shops and residences.

Each of the troops faced similar scenarios. Their convoy would meet with Iraqi Police, role-played by other troopers in the squadron. Together they conducted a cordon and search operation in search of a known improvised explosive device maker. The simulated Iraqi Police then escorted the unit into town where they would establish a foothold.

Typically, one platoon would secure the outer perimeter of the town as a cordon with their M3A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles while the other platoon secured the interior area of the town. A search team supporting the Iraqi Police would then enter the buildings looking for intelligence to collect and a key high value target, defined as a target (a person or resource) that an enemy commander requires for completion of a mission, to capture.
Having many factors involved in the training made the operation as realistic as possible for the troopers.

"Multiple contact scenarios in numerous buildings and having to flow from one to another created a stressful but valuable training situation," said Sgt. Michael Craven, a squad leader in the mortar platoon of C Troop. "Even the medics were able to practice their craft with simulated combat injuries."

These environmental obstacles forced the unit leaders to consider them in order to complete their mission.

"No matter where you go you are going to run into situations where you have to understand the three dimensional fight," said 1st Lt. Daniel Schmidt, a platoon leader with B Troop.

Following completion of the mission, the troop leadership met in the after action review building provided by the range to discuss observations made by the trainers as well as the many lessons the unit may have learned. Because the facility is fully automated the discussion was augmented with edited video, highlighting the key points of the operation filmed during the course of the mission.

"The training provided the squadron with the opportunity to really stress the troop commanders with a high intensity scenario especially as this is the first time they've conducted a troop level operation," said Capt. Sean O'Neil, an assistant operations and planning officer in the squadron.

The Boaz facility is able to realistically recreate a combat environment from Iraq through the utilization of realistic sound effects and ethnic music like the call to prayer and angry mob shouting as well as smoke and smell generators to assault a trooper's senses. The overall effect puts the trooper in an almost real yet safe battle space.