By Sgt. Robert M England (2nd BCT, 25th ID )October 22, 2012
YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. -- Two Kiowa Warrior helicopters rained lead on the designated target from their .50-caliber machine guns in the distance, followed by a blaze of Hellfire missiles, before speeding off to a safe distance.
Within minutes, volley after volley of 155mm rockets pummeled the same target, all at the direction of the cavalry troopers on the ground.
Cavalry troopers from A Troop, 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, "Strykehorse," 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, conducted a Walk and Shoot training exercise on Oct. 16 at Yakima Training Center, Wash.
The Strykehorse squadron conducted the tandem exercise alongside A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd SBCT, 25th ID, a Stryker-mounted mortar squad and two Kiowa helicopters from the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
Capt. Jason Watson, commander, A Troop, 2nd Sqdn., 14th Cav. Regt., said that the Walk and Shoot training exercise availed multiple assets to the cavalry troopers, and it was up to them to manage these assets effectively in order to best support the cavalry mission.
"The Walk and Shoot training we conducted was integrating different platforms in support of our ground troops, having a platoon on the ground calling field artillery, and then having the ability to talk to close-air support at the same time," Watson said.
The exercise taught valuable lessons to new platoon leaders and seasoned cavalry scouts alike, giving them an opportunity to hone skills that will likely be called upon in actual combat situations, Watson said.
"During the Walk and Shoot, the troops on the ground were able to de-conflict close-air support and talk with field artillery while identifying targets," Watson said. "So it was a great learning lesson for young lieutenants and young squad leaders to be able to do this in training and actually getting to see the effects for the first time, very similar to what they're going to see downrange."
With so many heavy-hitting assets on the battlefield, the cavalry troopers were also responsible for the safety of the assets, the close-air support in particular.
After close-air support engaged the target identified by the cavalry troopers, the Kiowa helicopters needed to make a hasty exit before the M777 howitzers could continue the onslaught with artillery rounds, Watson said.
"It was a wonderful training event that happened with squad leaders and platoon leaders, having the ability to de-conflict airspace with close-air support coming in and shooting a target at a location that the platoon had sent up, and then having them move back to a safe grid distance away from field artillery that's coming in and shooting the target that's also been called up," Watson said.
Both safety and lethality rely heavily upon effective communication. Spc. Jeffrey Klisch, a cavalry scout with A Troop, 2nd Sqdn., 14th Cav. Regt., stressed the importance of communication with regards to indirect fire assets on the battlefield.
"More along the lines of how you can be effective, if you can communicate with artillery or mortars more efficiently you can get more rounds on target in a quicker timeframe and produce less casualties on your side," Klisch said.
As the eyes and ears of the brigade combat team, Watson said the cavalry's mission includes effectively utilizing assets to accurately track and engage their targets.
"It's the ability to coordinate and implement assets across multiple platforms," Watson said. "These platforms help us to shape the battlefield and coordinate precision targets on the battlefield. When it all comes together, it gives the ground commander better situational awareness of where the target is."
With a better understanding of what's necessary to employ various combat multipliers on a dynamic battlefield, the Strykehorse troopers can put more distance between themselves and the enemy while still managing to engage with lethal force.