By Spc. Sharla Lewis, 3rd BCT PAO, 1st Cav. Div.November 9, 2010
FORT IRWIN, Calif. - Greywolf troopers incorporated aspects of a rescue mission, Nov. 1, at the National Training Center, on Fort Irwin, Calif.
Scouts from B Troop, 6th Squadron, 9th United States Cavalry Regiment conducted the live fire downed aircraft recovery exercise to prepare them for a deployment to Iraq early next year.
"This is something we may encounter in Iraq," said 2nd Lt. Aaron Guaderrama, a platoon leader. "If it's not U.S. forces, it may be Iraqi. Down range, we'll have live ammo and this prepares us for carrying live ammunition."
After a rehearsal using blank ammunitions, the Soldiers moved in past a crash site with billowing smoke to a small village where locals had "kidnapped" a pilot and held him hostage.
The platoon stacked in teams of five against courtyard walls and cleared each of three houses, engaging enemy targets and marking each area as they went before reaching the final home where the downed pilot was located.
After requesting a medical evacuation, the Soldiers returned to their vehicles and continued their convoy, engaging enemy targets and reacting to road-side bombs before completing the exercise.
Leaders within the troop said the train-up was a success and vital to the accomplishment of their mission once deployed.
"My guys did really well," said Staff Sgt. Andrew Valadez, a section sergeant from Houston. "They responded well, listened and they were alert and eager to learn, which is what's important."
"We're deploying soon and some of these guys only have basic training as experience, so getting to work as a platoon will really help them down range," he said.
After the exercise, conversations buzzed with excitement and Soldiers agreed that the scenario presented to them had been helpful in understanding the dynamics of working as cohesive platoon.
"It went great!" said Pfc. Steven Musser, from Fort Collins, Colo. "We learned the things that we needed to improve and used the rehearsals to improve them."
Units within 3rd BCT are using NTC as a drawing board for their upcoming deployment to Iraq to ensure a successful rotation.
"The whole reason I joined was to get out there and get after it," Musser said, "and NTC is showing me how to do that."