Below are some of our most recent Field Reports. We hope this gives you an idea of what our training is often like. Of course, no one can be told what the militia is, you have to see it for yourself...
Sunday night we received the call that the City of Joplin had been hit by an EF 4 Tornado. There was a push for any volunteers that could respond at the time for that Monday. We managed to gather members from the 1/3 KC and 1/7 CO. We linked up with members of the 4/8 SF at the Missouri Southern State University. HAM net started 09:40 AM. Traffic was hazy at best with the rain picking up as we entered Joplin. We where directed to a different parking lot by the Local Sheriff deputy for the one we RV'd in was going to be set up as a temporary morgue. After we found parking, the C. O's Proceeded to see about getting us an assignment. Wavers and skill base information was received and signed at 10:00 but due to the overwhelming magnitude of volunteers along with damage ratio and lack of Organization. We did not receive any assignment but only word on an area that needed assistance, approximately two hours later.
Our Guide was a local named Tim. Along with a group of Nurses that patched with us and we proceeded in town to rally at a Sate Highway Patrol Base near a motel. After traveling through congested streets of a post destructive worn people and traffic, We arrived at the same time as the National Guard convoy. We received our task for a street in need of assistance. We proceeded out along with the dispatch of National Guard and Law Enforcement. Arriving on scene at a church that had been hit at in subdivision, we decided to get started. The church members and Pastor were distributing food for neighbors and laborers. We assisted in clearing their Parking Lot of debris so that a larger distributer could set up for later that evening and next day. After clearing the lot we assisted neighbors with tarping their Roof and then proceeded deeper into the subdivision assisting neighbors with clearing wreckage and recovering property.
As we reached deeper in the neighborhood, we seen the extent of damage that had been caused. From the center out. Houses and buildings had been decimated for roughly a mile wide and several miles long. It was difficult to Imagine how there where not more casualties then there were judging by the destruction. Everything was Generally Crushed and scattered. Walls and partial structures that still stood, where rittled with projectile marks. Vehicles displaced in yards, Tree's and even 3ft concrete forms of relay stations where unearthed. Evidence of unimaginable force continued to astound us while remains of fine things surprisingly remained in place. Books and food on shelves and clothes in closets. Few houses had crawl spaces but almost none had basements. Most people we came across survived by taking cover in their tubes. A women we came across who was a volunteer fire fighter, survived by taking refuge in her closet. Amazingly the rest of her house was destroyed around her. It was clear that some people where being watched over.
While working through the disaster, the whether hadn't let up for the citizens. The rain and hail continued through our relief efforts there. We cleared most of our street and decided to turn into the Community Hall to assist with any First Aid and Humanitarian efforts. When we arrived there and there wasn't a great need for those professions. So we assisted in the off loading of logistics with the in coming medical supplies, clothes, food and other materials. Afterwards we looked to donate blood at the mall. We decided that their storage was sufficient and the wait was going to over spend our time and availability. Radio net and end mission for Monday closes off 17:20.
Joplin Deployment Continued
May 28th, 29th
Saturday morning we set off again to the town of Joplin from the KC area. This time we would be rallying with Volunteers of the 1/3 KC, 1/7 CO, 4/8 SF, 3/8 JP. We had finally established contact with the 3/8 unit out of Joplin. They had been working for sometime through out the week in there communities along with others.. Net starts at 08:00 making contact with the 4/8 as we made it into town. We RV'd at a Barn out side of town. Thanks to some hospitality of the owners of that private property we were able to set up our CP and deploy our logistics 08:18. Our contacts there had also been working since Friday. Once we dropped our packs for the night, we readied the equipment for deployment. Prep included hand tools, chain saws, protective gear, and a Bob Kat.
BK-Bob Kat team
SC-Signal and Control team
S&L-Supply and Logistics team
We made contact with the New Creations Church off 19th Street at 10:15. There we cleared wavers and received our assignments.
The BK & CS teams deployed to with their first assignment off Pennsylvania Ave.
S&C along with S&L teams stayed with the church to continue to assist with in coming donations and relaying assignments.
S&C's first assignment was Loading some clothes to take to Advance America, a small business off 7th street. A local lady there also helped with the clothes and was our guide.
12:30 S&C assisted the BK and CS teams with an assignment off 21st street. We helped the gentleman there recover property there for his sister. Members of the Red Cross had Provided lunch on scene for the Locals. We also directed traffic for EMS and National Guard.
13:52 S&C Returned to the New Creations Church to distribute Medical supplies to the Community Hall in town. We were then further directed to distribute the rest of the supplies to an Airport hanger being used for distribution by members of AmeriCorps.
S&C Team returning to the Church, received an assignment that was stressed urgent. The lady that was our guide for the clothes distribution had learned of a loss. We followed and marked the location of the property off Dooley Dr. All Teams where then gathered to help recover property for her at 15:15. She was specifically interested in a Family Bible. In a group effort sorting through the wreckage, it was recovered along with some other valuables. This assignment ended our work day at 17:49 for Saturday the 29th. We then Rallied at the Wild Woods Baptist Church off 20th street. There we linked up with the Volunteers out of the 3/8 as well as the 4/8. The Church Provided dinner there for us. We then returned to our CP for the night.
Sunday the 29th, we RV'd Once again at the Wild Woods Baptist Church. By this time FEMA was on site assisting the Church. There we linked Up with all the Units. We were provided for again by the Church for breakfast. There we received our Assignment to help with a neighborhood that had weathered the storm off 26th street and Duquesne Road.
All Units and Equipment where deployed. There we proceeded from the center and moved out on the Road in both directions. House to House we talked to neighbors and discussed their needs. Once we got our assignments we applied equipment and men as necessary clearing debris, recovering property and distributing provisions. Through out the morning, more volunteer groups from churches as well as independent volunteers from out of state with Bob kats and other equipment showed up to help as well. We worked side by side and directed our efforts as needed through out the day. The Street was cleared by 12:30 and the neighbors there where now freed up to assist the rest of their communities. Net and mission ends 13:00.
Thanks goes out to all the Units and there new members that came out to lend a hand. All the Volunteer Groups the worked and distributed and assisted with assignments and All the Churches that took care of us and gave us assignments through out the deployment. The citizens of Joplin maybe down but they are not out. No flag lays on the ground. Old Glory still is flown by any means and does not fade. The communities attitude is one that you would expect from the Heart Land. Politics, Religion, and Bureaucrats where set aside and as Americans we helped each other out. The work we all do there may have seemed minuscule compared to the magnitude of damage there. But the piece of mind and the hearts of the people of those communities that where effected there makes all the difference.
MAR 12, 2011
Great weather, several new patriots, and a couple of observers from a sister unit in Kansas made this a perfect training day. We started as usual with a formation, Prayer and The Pledge of Allegiance. We also had our Intel briefing that gave a lot of attention to the situation in Japan; as to how it could affect this area and how to prepare for and react to a similar situation should it occur at a nearby nuclear power plant.
We then got started with today’s training subject- IA drills. IA drills are preplanned instant responses to events that occur quickly and without warning. The classroom portion of the class was taught thoroughly and professionally. Now it was time to get into the field for a walk through so everyone could get a feel for how to put what we had covered in class into action.
We divided up into buddy teams, fire teams and squads and spent about 90 minutes going through the mechanics of how to perform IA’s in various scenarios and groupings. Even for some of the veteran members this can get a little confusing, but by the end of the walk through everyone had a solid understanding of these tactics and we were moving well on both the individual and group levels.
After breaking for lunch and a short Officer/NCO meeting it was time to grab our web gear and head into the field to see how well we could apply our new skills in two exercises that had been planned out and set up by our CO as a test. Everyone performed outstandingly in both exercises and we headed back for the debrief feeling pretty good about the accomplishments of the day.
All in all a good day of training with a great bunch of patriots. Why don’t you come join us next time? You know you want to.
WINTER SURVIVAL TRAINING –
Since no one knows when the call to serve might come, it is critical that the minuteman or militia member be prepared to operate in all seasons. Important parts of the ability to sustain service to the community and state include being able to provide shelter and food in less than hospitable situations. The training reinforced skills which are necessary for survival, let alone effective service in harsh, winter conditions.
Prior to the actual training on Saturday, February 19, the members were asked to refrain from eating for two days. The fast tested the resolve of a lot of members and pushed everyone to recognize the difficulty of operating on an empty stomach. Originally, after the last meal on Thursday, the next meal would have been a small animal sometime Saturday night during the training. However, after a timely article posted on Arctic Patriot’s blog (www.arcticpatriot.blogspot.com) drawing an analogy of a cold furnace and an empty stomach, it was decided that some small snacks were going to be provided shortly after the 1330 start to the training. This was also done to ensure that members could stay focused during classroom training as well as be warmed up a little before going on the patrol. The blog article on keeping warm with food can be found here http://arcticpatriot.blogspot.com/2011/02/staying-warm-nuts-and-bolts-fueling.html and is well worth the read.
We had been warned that the training was going to be miserable and the weather the previous two weeks appeared to support that. It had been bitterly cold, dipping to single digits and the area had received 15-20 inches of snow. However, the preceding four days were as warm as 65 and all the snow was gone by Saturday. The day ended up being in the upper 40’s, low 50’s but a pretty good thunderstorm kept things interesting.
Members who were teaching classes that day began arriving 1100 to 1200 hrs and a security checkpoint was setup to greet the day’s attendees. When the training finally kicked off at 1330, 24 people were in attendance including three new people, two members from the 1st/7th, three members from the 3rd/2nd, and two instructors from Illinois.
After formation and an intelligence brief, we filed off to the classroom where multiple tables of gear and winter survival equipment were on display. The first instructor walked us all through the various kinds of things that are almost a necessity when serving in winter conditions.
Next we received a class on camp security and overall situational awareness followed by a class on water purification. Members were going to be tested on each of these skills later in the patrol.
Following those classes, members stepped outside to see another instructor’s examples of emergency shelters using basic equipment such as a poncho and emergency foil blankets. Members were taught how to use the paracord they should have in their 1st and 2nd line gear to rig up temporary shelters to keep them warm and dry.
Following that field trip, we sauntered back to the classroom for further instruction on wild edible foods. A cornucopia of wild plants had been gathered and was passed around to show members exactly what can be eaten when hungry and on the move. Various parts of each plant were discussed, showing which parts to eat and which to avoid.
After the edible plants class, members were briefed on personal hygiene in the field. Keeping oneself clean, warm, dry are critical to surviving outside or on a mission.
The thunderstorm mentioned above was about to roll in, so the hygiene class was shortened so that members could go back outside one more time. This time we were instructed on how to make snares and trap small game in the wild in an emergency situation. Members constructed their own snares with readily accessible material found in hobby stores. The simplicity of the snares was a surprise to some students. Luckily this class ended right as the rain came down hard. We made it back to the classroom right as it got very, very wet.
After one has caught some wild game, what do you do with it? We were next shown how to clean and prepare small game. A volunteer who had never cleaned and prepared an animal went through the process, getting hands on experience. The rest of the class watched with interest as the procedure was completed in less than five minutes.
This concluded the classroom instruction and it was time to put some of these skills into action on the night patrol. After a hasty warning order, members were given about 30 minutes to get their gear out, get prepped and ready to roll. With the large group, there were two squads organized and participants were assigned to positions in fire-teams which would maximize learning opportunities. Buddy teams were also assigned since we’d be operating in the dark.
The patrol specifically focused on filtering water at a specific rally point. Here, the various fire-teams and squads took turn utilizing their filters while others provided security. Buddy teams were rotated through until everyone had a chance to experiment with their system of cleaning water. It was crucial that water be obtained at this rally point because all canteens were emptied prior to beginning the patrol.
Once both squads had their fill of water, it was time to move onto the next rally point. Here the squads again took turns providing security while others prepared the wild game that was cleaned earlier in class. Wood was gathered, an improvised spit created and dinner was a-cookin’. While waiting on the meat, buddy teams took turns changing to dry clothes and socks. After about an hour of arriving at this rally point, patrol participants were treated to some succulent wild, cooked meat. Someone had thought to put some soup mix in water and pour over the meat and it made for some great eating.
Finally, the squads prepared for the return back to base. A call was made to let leadership know we’d be ahead of schedule. Upon arrival we were anxious to dive into the two pans of homemade stew and bread, our reward for some serious training.
What went right – TONS of information and knowledge soaked up. It was great to put some of the skills in action and think about how one performs hungry, cold, and under stress.
What went wrong – the focus of the day’s training was winter survival skills and that went great. At the expense of focusing on those skills, the warning order and patrol methods were scaled back. New members may have observed activities that don’t reflect proper procedure.
4 DEC 2010
This is the training we all look forward to, the live fire tactical course. Not even the cold and unusually windy weather conditions could curb the enthusiasm of the 14 members present.
Our day started with the usual formation that includes The Pledge of Allegiance, a prayer, and an intelligence update. We were all a little concerned how the wing would affect the day but we weren’t about to cancel!
After a safety briefing we moved to the firing line for a full morning of double taps, tactical reloads, speed drills, and shooting on the move at ranges from 2 to 7 yards.
Next came lunch. We were served T-rations of chicken stir-fry and rice with angel food cake with blueberries for desert. We all ate in the garage due to the wind but it was still a great meal with great friends. After lunch we all pitched in to clean up then headed back to the range.
Now it was time for the combat course. This is a moving course with multiple shoot and no shoot targets, obstacles, and blind spots. We ran the course with both shotguns and handguns and also scenarios where you transitioned between the two.
We ran it individually, in pairs, and in teams of four. Every safety precaution was taken and a safety officer closely followed all shooters through the course. We all went through several times and by 1600 we were all tired, cold, and low on ammo so we packed up, policed up all range materials and headed home. All in all it was a great training.
8 May, 2010
In the past we have had classes on First Aid/CPR/AED and certainly those are things that everyone should know how to do. Life happens and you might have to help save a life. But today we learned how to do an emergency tracheotomy. Yes you read this right, we all practiced emergency tracheotomies and laryngectomies. We used pig throats to simulate the human throat. Doc explained that sometimes other methods won’t clear the airway and the only way to save the patients life is to perform this procedure. I won’t go into detail, as this is a class that has to be seen and done hands on.
We had more medical classes, where we learned the proper way to lift and carry people by stretcher in teams of two and four. Then we learned one-person carries and how to drag your buddy out of harms way. Also, we learned how to triage, check for shock and simple ways to treat it, and take care of the patient until help arrives. Both of these add to our unit’s ability to assist in an emergency either at the local, or State level.
Another class we did was basic knot tying. Pvt. Peyton taught this class and it was a good refresher to have, five knots that are easy and can be used when and where needed. We also did a refresher course in shooting azimuths with a compass and doing back azimuths as well as a class on field stripping the AR-15 and AK rifles. Always fun, and a good refresher course.
We also practiced setting up a Gas Mask, purging, and deploying it. We had a review of our basic hand signals, which is something that can’t be over learned. Lastly, we practiced preparing for a patrol, including selection of equipment, gear adjustments, and most importantly, Pre Combat Inspections. This included the squad leaders checklist and doing a physical check on each teammate.
There was a lot of information covered, and we all had to be on our toes and ready. If you missed it, make plans on coming out and learning about these and many other skills. One never knows when you will be the man on the spot and a few skills learned now just might save a loved ones life.
10 April 2010
This training day was special because we were having a family day where our spouses and older children were invited to participate in our training. While all training days are open to the public we made a special effort to make this a family event and it was a big success!
After our standard formation, prayer, and Pledge of Allegiance, We had a short class on various first aid kits (personal, vehicle, hunting, etc.) and their contents and a short presentation aimed at our guests to help educate them in our history and our mission.
Next we got into the advanced first aid class, which was taught by one of our members who happens to be an ER doctor. It included casualty assessment, basic lifesaving procedures, and demonstrations on the Heimlich maneuver and the use of an AED (Automated Electric Defibrillator).
We took a break for a great lunch of burgers and dogs, baked beans, potato salad, chips, and mixed fruit. We also had a short class on the use and care of gas masks over the lunch break.
After lunch it was time to go hands on so we took turns practicing the Heimlich on each other and practicing our CPR on the dummies our Dr. had brought with him.
We ended the day with some down time so the families got an opportunity to meet and get to know each other. It was a great time and a huge success. We hope to make this an annual event. We hope to see you at our next training.
3rd Battalion/2nd Brigade Provides Search Team for Missing Franklin County Resident. Account as Follows:
At approximately 2000 hrs on 20 April, I was informed via e-mail of a missing person in Franklin County near St. Clair, Mo.
Night movement, set up an OP/LP
We would like to thank our embedded journalist on this training mission, Katie Currid from the University of Missouri at Columbia, for coming along and photographing us for posterity.
As our training event started in the early afternoon, the temperature was in the forties, with a constant light rain falling. The training began with Cpl. Hurd giving a class on establishing an LP/OP. Our training mission was to consist of two squads, one to establish a Listening Post/Observation Post, and another squad to attempt to hunt down the first squad.
Once the class was done, Col. Sumpter took care of our unit business, announcements and information dissemination. With the conclusion of unit business, SSgt. “Cookie" Kline treated us all to a fantastic lunch of Garlic infused Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Green Beans with Bacon and Brownies for dessert. Luckily the rain stopped during lunch so we had a much better chance of staying dry out in the woods.
As our lunch settled the Cpl. gave the Operation Order for our mission. The Sgt. went over terrain and mission boundaries. Our unit was split into one of two squads, the LP/OP squad, and the hunter squad. With this final information, the two patrols separated and began planning the details of their respective missions.
As the LP/OP squad prepared to leave, squad leaders did an equipment check on their squad making sure everyone was adequately geared for the temperature and weather conditions. The LP/OP squad headed into the woods first. The weather was a bit chilly, but the ground was soft and easy on the feet aside from a little mud. We had a good evening hike practicing hand signals and squad movements. We eventually arrived at the spot we picked and we set up under the concealment of a large stand of brush. By this time it was plenty dark. We made sure to have strict light and sound discipline while observing our target.
By the 2100 deadline the hunter team had not located the LP/OP so both teams were called in by radio. We finished the training with a standard mission debrief to discuss what went right and what went wrong and what we need to do different. By then it was time to pack up and head home. All in all a very successful training.
5 Dec, 2009
Combat Pistol Training
You knew this was going to be a very serious course as we received our orders in the mail from Sgt. Skolaut the week before. In it he laid down the safety rules (which makes sense) and the next to last paragraph did lighten the mood as it went like this,
“Don’t be a Dumb Ass. Always, Always wear ear and eye protection!!!!!”
His last Paragraph was the Law, and I knew Bill would enforce it to the T.
“THIS WILL BE A COLD RANGE TODAY LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
IF YOU HANDLE YOUR WEAPON WITHOUT A RANGE OFFICER PRESENT YOU WILL BE ASKED TO LEAVE!”
Again safety first, just like a range should be, everyone’s safety and protection is paramount as it is at all of our training sessions.
The second page was some words of encouragement that “we should know our threats, options and limitations. That we can learn from each other, as no one ever knows everything. There is no best way to fight, but learn to fight smart. Nobody can tell what it will take to win your fight, as each one is different.”
And finally, that there are three kinds of people. Predators, those who cannibalize their own species. Prey, those who allow themselves to be eaten. And those who refuse to be neither, an armed and trained citizen.
Now we get to the day of training, The temperature was 12F that morning. We all got together at 0900 and with a few latecomers had the formation at 0930. Prayer, pledge intel briefing, and of course the all important safety briefing. Range officer and safety personnel were introduced and then we headed to the range. Our newest member was prior service (Army) where he was a COOK, and had been doing reenactments where he was the COOK. And he wanted to come out and COOK for us, and boy did he come prepared, with Brownies and some meat to make a stew. (Which was excellent by the way.) And he decided he wanted to join the unit at the end of the training, which is great for us. Oh by the way, did I tell you he’s a COOK? And a good one too!
At the range the Sgt. had set up three different courses, this is how the first one went.
WHO’S KNOCKING AT THE DOOR?
The shooter is sitting in a recliner with his feet up reading a magazine.
Suddenly the front door is kicked open and an assailant rushes in (target mounted on a sled) and he is coming at you. Drop the magazine and access your pistol (sitting on the end table beside your chair) engage these two targets, two on the left by the window and one on the right.
Targets are to be double tapped for a total of 10 shots. The target on the right is next to your wife so your shots that way have to be accurate. Hit the wife and you’re in trouble. Remember time is important, but so is safety; this drill takes a little practice.
WHATS UP WITH ALL OF THIS TRAFFIC?
You are sitting in traffic at an intersection with your spouse in the car.
(We used a real vehicle for this, a Mini-Van, no holes in the glass or the vehicle please.) All of a sudden you see 4 men coming at you quickly, two on the drivers side and two on your spouses side. Retrieving your weapon, you must engage all four targets, quickly but safely. 8 shots to be fired, at your own pace but again safety first, and no holes in the vehicle please, again thinking this one through and doing a dry run helped.
The Third Course:
This was a room clearing exercise where a team of four men using air-soft rifles had to engage several targets. We did a talk through, and then several runs with the weapons and everyone learned that having a team that has practiced this is great. Everyone knows his job and what he has to do to support the team, if one man fails in his responsibilities then the team could fail. Teamwork gets the job done.
Mental practice of thinking of all the what if’s that can happen helps, doing dry runs makes your actions smoother and practiced. Then, doing them in a live fire situation like we did really gets the old heart pumping. And that’s what we do in the militia, practice to be of help if called upon.
Three new people joined us, A Doctor, another Army Vet, and a COOK.
We also had five other new people come out for training and they expressed a desire to join us. Just coming out to a training session or two doesn’t obligate you to join. But don’t be surprised at the quality of people you find here, individuals who volunteer and sacrifice to be here if called on for the community and our State.
21 FEB. 2009
ARRIVED FOR TRAINING AT 0730, GEARED UP AND HELPED MAN THE CHECKPOINT. ASSEMBLED FOR FIRST FORMATION AT 0815, HAD A PRAYER FOR THOSE WANTING TO PARTICIPATE, AND THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE. WE THEN DISCUSSED NEW INTEL, CURRENT EVENTS, AND HAD A BRIEF OPINION SEGMENT. WE BROKE INTO FIRETEAMS AND WENT THROUGH BASIC HAND SIGNALS FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE VISITORS AND NEW RECRUITS. WE THEN PRACTICED RUSHES AS A TEAM AND THEN WENT TO WORK ON IADs.
THE COL. PLACED ME IN CHARGE OF THE PLATOON TO TEACH THE IMMEDIATE ACTION DRILLS. (IADs) WE BEGAN WITH LEARNING WHAT TYPES OF EVENTS CONSTITUTE AN IMMEDIATE ACTION AND WHAT KINDS OF ACTIONS WE MIGHT TAKE IN RESPONSE. WE THEN FORMED UP INTO A PLATOON ELEMENT FOR DRILLS. TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE OPEN FIELD WE OPENED UP INTO A THREE WEDGE TRAVELING FORMATION. I STRESSED THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING PROPER DISTANCE BETWEEN MEN IN EACH WEDGE, AS WELL AS PROPER DISTANCE BETWEEN EACH ELEMENT. THE PURPOSE BEING THAT IT MAKES IT HARDER TO AMBUSH AN ELEMENT THAT IS SPREAD OUT, ESPECIALLY WHEN THERE ARE TWO ADDITIOANL ELEMENTS NOT IN CONTACT AND WHICH ARE ABLE TO FLANK AND COUNTER-ASSAULT.
THE PLATOON THEN PRACTICED REACTING TO CONTACTS FROM VARIOUS DIRECTIONS. AS THEY MOVED ALONG I WOULD CALL CONTACT! AND DESIGNATE A SPECIFIC DIRECTION, AND THE TEAMS WOULD HAVE TO EITHER COME UP ON LINE, FLANK, ASSAULT THROUGH, OR BREAK CONTACT DEPENDING ON THE SCENARIO. WE DISCUSSED ACTIONS TO TAKE WITH NEAR AMBUSHES VS. FAR AMBUSHES AND WHAT TO DO WHEN CONFRONTED BY INDIRECT FIRE (FLARES, MORTARS, ETC.)
IT WAS THEN TIME TO BREAK FOR LUNCH, HATS OFF TO RANDY AND THE OTHER VOLUNTEERS FOR MANNING THE FIELD KITCHEN AND PROVIDING A WARM MEAL ON A COLD DAY. OUTSTANDING!
AFTER LUNCH THE PLATOON FORMED UP FOR A PATROL WHERE THEY WOULD BE FORCED TO ENCOUNTER AN AMBUSH. THE PATROL MOVED OUT STAYING INSIDE THE TREE LINE, USED GOOD SECURITY CROSSING OBSTACLES AND EMPLOYED HAND SIGANLS WELL. AS THEY BEGAN A CREEK CROSSING, THE SECOND ELEMENT WAS JUST IN THE MIDDLE OF CROSSING WHEN THE PATROL BEGAN RECEIVING VERY ACCURATE MORTAR FIRE. THE LEAD ELEMENT WAS DECIMATED, AND THE SECOND ELEMENT WAS SPLIT UP AND PINNED DOWN. THE AIR BURSTS WERE RIGHT AT OR BELOW TREE TOP LEVEL AND THERE WASN’T ANYTHING THAT COULD BE DONE. THE PATROL LEADER ORDERED THE REMAINING ELEMENTS TO CIRCLE AROUND AND TAKE THE HILLTOP.
ONCE THE BARRAGE WAS OVER, EVERYONE WAS CALLED DOWN TO DISCUSS WHAT HAD JUST HAPPENED, CRITIQUE THE ACTIONS TAKEN, AND DISCUSS WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE DIFFERENTLY. IT WAS DECIDED THAT THE
OUR VISITORS WERE “SHOCKED AND AWED” AT THE ONSET OF THE SIMULATED MORTAR ATTACK. THE PYROTECHNICS USED WERE A BIT OF A SURPRISE AND GOT THEM TO SERIOUSLY CONSIDER HOW THEY WOULD REACT TO AN ATTACK IN REAL LIFE. THE CONFUSION, THE CONCUSSION OF THE BLAST, THE NOISE LEVEL, AND THEIR UNFAMILIARITY WITH FIELD TACTICS WERE ALL CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO HOW THEY RESPONDED. DURING THE DEBRIEF, MANY WERE STILL BREATHING HARD AND YET SMILING FROM EAR TO EAR. WHILE WE STRIVE FOR REALISM IN OUR TRAINING, SAFETY IS FOREMOST. ALL PYROTECHNICS WERE WELL COORDINATED AND CONTROLLED BY A LICENSED TECHNICIAN, AND SAFETY GUIDES WERE PRESENT.
Orders were sent out five days before the training so that everyone would know what to expect. We received some very positive feedback on the orders. Come Sat morning at 0650 the alert tree was activated for a practice drill muster.
It was looking like a great day for training, temperature around 20 F and later it would warm-up to a balmy 45F or so. At a few minutes past 0900 we had our formation and then had our normal Prayer and Intel briefing. We discussed the worsening economic mess that is coming down and a few other items were covered. Breaking down into a HQ element, (to secure our vehicles) and a squad to conduct the infiltration and then the OP. We went over items to be carried, and the jobs to be covered, along with final signals and recognition codes. An equipment check was efficiently and quickly carried out and final preps done.
The Squad was lead out to the edge of our secure lines, told where the two forward standing patrols were located and given a direction between them, and off they went. The guide then returned to the HQ and with the other members present got it ready so the OP team would have something different to observe.
When the OP team got into position and called HQ we then started our role-playing. Setting up a tent, the communications center strung out wire for a field phone. Guards leaving camp and switching out a hidden outpost.
Later when the exercise was completed, the OP was told to stand and show their position. We then had a hard time seeing them as they had picked a very good and concealed position back in the trees approx 150 to 200 meters away.
All in all a very good training day and a lot was learned, and quality practice accomplished. The following is from one of the squad members whom were on the OP team side:
When we released the guide, our first objective was to move about 75 yds. down a grassy slope to get into the woods. As soon as we got in the woods our tail man called a halt and alerted us to movement behind us. Turns out a bunch of Cub scouts were passing through the field we had crossed. We hunkered down and let them pass by then got moving.
We moved out slow and steady with a 15 to 20 meter space between members and as quietly as possible. We were all carrying our rucksacks as well as our web gear so it was a little slower going than usual. We made it to the OP base without any problems and set out security. After a recon by the LT and the SGT the location for the OP was decided. We were broke into 3 -2 man teams with each team spending 30 minutes on the OP. My teammate and I were up first so we dropped our rucks and slipped forward from our position.
When all teams had had their turn we radioed in that we were done and were instructed to stand up to reveal our location. The HQ element was surprised, as they had no idea where we. After a quick debrief we packed up our gear and said our good-byes. It was a great day. We learned a lot and had a lot of fun doing it.