Monday, October 12, 2009

Working For the Weekend

Its a rainy Monday here at Fort Benning as we enjoy the final few hours of our three and a half day weekend which started last Friday. It was another wet week in the field for Bravo Company but a good week of training nonetheless. Monday began with a normal PT session before we loaded our trucks and headed out to our training area. The key tasks to be completed this past week were squad lanes or Situational Training Exercises (STX). In each lane a squad must fight through a small tactical scenario. These lanes are the building blocks for larger Platoon STX lanes. Monday was the introduction to the backbone of Army tactics: Reacting to Contact and Squad Attack. In reacting to contact, the squad receives enemy fire and takes cover while returning fire. The second phase is the attack portion where the SL moves his fire teams in such a way that he is able to get on the enemy's flank in order to kill him. After drilling this all day, I headed back to the land nav course to bed down prior to testing the next morning.

Tuesday morning began at 0300 with land nav and once complete we moved back to the training area and made a patrol base on the side of a hill. A patrol base is a 360 degree camp that soldiers occupy in order to plan missions, clean weapons, eat, and, when possible, sleep. From the patrol base (PB) we patrolled out and set up an ambush to destroy any enemy fleeing the attack from another one of our squads on an adjacent objective. This brought us to an introduction on clearing rooms and then another lane in which we left the patrol base and raided a house in the middle of the woods. That evening, amidst rain and fatigue, 1st PLT manned the PB for what we knew was going to be a long, sleepless night.

We were done setting in security at about 2300 and began to implement our rest plan: half the platoon up pulling security while the other half slept. I was up to sleep first but within a half hour of closing my eyes flares were being shot over our position, illuminating the dark sky like a mega light bulb. The flare would blind our NVGs and ruin our natural night vision for a few moments. After the flares gunfire erupted to the rear of the PB and the whole platoon got online with their weapons to defend the PB. This went on all night up until 0700 and most of the PLT got about 2 hours of sleep. That day we had another lane in which the squad would patrol into a farm area and speak with a "local" before being drawn into an ambush. After this we headed out for another land nav course, this time using GPS and doing it completely at night. My partner once again would be LT Nick Runyon and we set out into the muddy roads of the course just after 2000hrs that Wednesday night. We returned three hours later with all seven points and were the first ones to finish in our PLT.

Thursday was our last day of squad lanes after being able to sleep in late for the first time that week. We then moved on to learning how to attack and destroy a bunker prior to preparing for the 10 mile roadmarch Friday morning. After dinner, some copperhead snakes decided to pay a visit to 3rd PLT patrol base resulting in the snakes untimely demise. As we bedded down we looked across at 3rd PLT's area and saw they had created a large bonfire. The next morning we found out the fire was to cook the snakes.

Friday began early at 0300 and we stepped off on the long walk home around 0500. It was incredibly humid and as 1st PLT walked into the company area back on main post it looked as if we had been swimming in our gear rather than marching home. The 10 mile march took us into the weekend as our CO let us go at 1000 that day. The three day weekend was a welcome break and was what everyone had been working so hard for this past week. As the weekend draws to a close we are preparing for another week in the field and the rain that will of course be joining us. There's a bunch of live fires this week and also the beginning of platoon STX lanes. Should be another good week of training. Until then, ATW!

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