Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rooms and Booms

For the third week in a row Bravo company headed to the field for training but unlike the previous two weeks, there was no rain. Instead of rain though there were ridiculous temperature fluctuations, sometimes as much a fifty degree change from morning to midday. Besides the shiver inducing mornings the week was filled with good training in Urban Operations (UO) and explosives. Monday started with a short run for PT before we drew weapons and headed out to the McKenna MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) site to jump right into training. We started with the basics of entering and clearing a room then moved onto flow drills where fire teams of four men would leapfrog from room to room and then finished with how to move up and down stairwells and between buildings when outside. That night we did a mission that included having to clear six multi-story buildings while being shot at by OPFOR and also dealing with civilians getting in the way, one of which being a woman going into labor.

Tuesday we headed to the live fire range to first shoot on a regular range and then we transitioned to the shoot house. The shoot house is a multi room structure with walls specially constructed to stop bullets so soldiers are able to fire live rounds anywhere in the building in any direction. Above the rooms are catwalks that give platoon trainers a bird's eye view of the teams clearing inside the building. Since we fire in such close quarters, numerous practice runs were done prior to going "live." The targets we were shooting at were suspended by balloons, so when rounds went into the target the balloon would pop and the target would fall to the ground simulating a dead insurgent. Once we were done we cleaned weapons and bedded down early in preparation for Wednesday's RTB run.

Wednesday began at 0400 as we crawled out of our sleeping bags into the chilly 34 degree morning. To make things more fun, we were in shorts and t-shirts since we would be doing our last 5 mile run of the course. We bussed out to Ranger Training Battalion (RTB) to do our 5 mile run on the same course we will run in January when we arrive at Ranger School. After the run was done we changed back into our combat uniforms, grabbed our gear, and headed over to the demolition range.

Lt. Sean Tolliver shows off the crater he made with his C4 charge. Photo by Author.

Once at the range we received classes on how to rig a C4 charge, a water impulse charge, and how to use det-chord to blow holes in doors and knock off hinges. We then finished the day with claymore mines. The video below shows three doors being blown away with a variety of different charges.

We returned from the demo range and had dinner before heading back to McKenna for night operations. The mission would be a raid on a multi-section, two floor building with the intent of killing or capturing a high value target (HVT), played in this case by CPT Martin.. In daylight the building is a maze with numerous hallways and dangerous corners. At night the building is just as much the enemy as the squad of OPFOR hiding inside it. We would run the same mission two times in a row with different levels of resistance and challenges. The PL for these two missions would be me. In 20 minutes the SLs and myself put a plan together to sneak into the building and capture the HVT. Our night vision would be our greatest advantage in the near pitch black building and I planned to breach a window to establish a foothold while trying to be sneaky. Our cover was blown right away and once we got into the building shots were ringing out all over. We moved slowly and methodically trying to be quiet until we had to shoot. We got our HVT and exfilled before resetting and doing it again. We did well and CPT Martin was impressed even though I made a few mistakes in planning the OP. We bedded down at 0100 and woke six hours later ready to finish our last day in the field.

Thursday was a day of simunition training and we all walked out covered in paint splotches and bruises where we had no body armor. We came home that afternoon and began prepping for our last major event of the week, a 12 mile roadmarch. The roadmarch began at 0500 Friday morning and we had three hours to complete the march. Lt. Sean Tolliver and myself crossed the finish line together at 2 hours and 49 minutes and dropped our rucks while we waited for the rest of 1st Platoon to finish. Once everyone was in we headed home to start the weekend as our CO gave us the rest of the day off to recover. This upcoming week we are back in the classroom to learn about counterinsurgency and defensive operations. There are only three weeks left in IOBC and Ranger School looms on the horizon for all of us. Until next week, ATW!

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