By Sgt. Robert M England (2nd BCT, 25th ID )June 28, 2012
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- The echoes of a barking dog and children playing rang through the marketplace. Shops advertised their fresh goods, and peculiar scents lingered in the breeze. A group of men gathered outside a flower shop as squads of Soldiers took up secure fighting positions.
Sgt. Ryan Bradley called out orders to his Soldiers to maintain their perimeter as he made contact with another squad leader. The platoon had just secured a weapon cache and a high-value target. The training exercise was a success.
Bradley, a squad leader with B Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, "Wolfhounds," 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, trained with the rest of his platoon at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows on Oahu from June 24 to June 27 marking the battalion's first platoon-level situational training exercise.
The raid training lane tested the platoon's ability to assault a series of objectives in an urban environment in search of a high-value target based on simulated intelligence disseminated during the mission briefing. Urban environment training is a priority as the skills required remain pertinent to current conflicts.
"We're transitioning to full-spectrum operations so it's nice that we're able to work in an urban environment which is a lot of what we're currently seeing," said 1st Lt. Joseph Orton, a platoon leader with B Co., 1-27 Inf. Regt. "It also helps to refine our standard battle drills, in this case, a raid."
"Anywhere we deploy to, there is going to be an element of urban warfare," Bradley added. "Coming down here to Bellows using the town that they built gets guys used to urban maneuver and what they can expect to see in marketplaces. To have this resource, we can get prepared and be effective destroying the enemy wherever we go."
The Wolfhounds began with team- and squad-level training earlier this year, and have moved into tactical maneuver with platoon-sized elements across situational training exercises, Bradley said.
"We started at the team level, worked through at the squad level and now we're working on platoon missions," he said. "Today, we ran through this scenario where we were conducting raids at the platoon level using intelligence so we can get some of our new guys trained and work as a platoon."
Platoon training allows Soldiers an opportunity to use tactics learned at the team and squad level. It also serves to strengthen cohesion and communication during operations that require teams and squads to act as a collective unit.
"We spent a lot of time training at the team and squad level," Orton said. "This is the first opportunity that we've had to train as a platoon and show that all the operating procedures we established at the team and squad levels are now working together at the platoon level."
Bradley added that the training also helped to integrate new Soldiers in the unit, and mutually acquaint the Soldiers and their leadership.
"I've found that the best integration for Soldiers is being in the field, so while we're out here, the new guys are getting to know everybody and their NCO chain of command," Bradley said. "It builds cohesion and allows leaders to get to know their Soldiers a little better and allows the Soldiers to build trust in their leaders."
For the leaders, the platoon STX provided a way to further develop and hone their leadership methods and abilities in tactical situations.
"I'm fairly new to the position so it's opened up my eyes to how things work on a larger scale and how my duties affect the successful completion of our mission," Bradley said.
"Working in garrison, there's a lot of paperwork involved in what I do," Orton said. "Coming out here and making sure I'm just as tactically proficient with the feedback I receive from the role-players and my squad, there's nothing like it."
Units in 2nd BCT have been using training resources at Schofield Barracks on Oahu and the Pohakuloa Training Area on the island of Hawaii for team- and squad-level training this year. The Military Operations on Urban Terrain site at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows on Oahu is an advanced training resource the brigade can use for urban environment training.
The facility boasts multiple cameras atop and inside every building to capture the action from every angle. Audio speakers throughout the MOUT site play sounds to simulate barking dogs and children at play. There are even smell simulation machines that emit odors to complete the atmosphere.
"This resource is dedicated to training in the urban environment," Bradley said. "There are cameras everywhere and sound effects machines that give you an idea of what you can expect when you deploy. It's a lot more realistic and there are lot more elements to give you battle-focused training to hone your skills."
All the details implemented in the construction of the facility, from the architecture of the buildings to the sound effects, were portrayed accurately, Bradley added. He related the MOUT site to his deployment to Iraq.
"I deployed to Tikrit, Iraq during the last deployment and from the building structures outside to the floor plans inside, it's very accurate," he said. "It's all the little things that you don't really think about that get you into it. It brings back some of the things I encountered when I deployed."
As Bradley and Orton departed the compound with the high-value target in custody, the platoon prepared for their after-action review feeling more confident in their abilities to operate effectively in an urban environment. Platoons across all companies in 1-27 Inf. Regt. will continue to train at the Bellows MOUT site into the first week of July, further preparing the battalion's Soldiers and leaders for contingencies anywhere in the world with realistic urban training.