1-1 training to fight anything the enemy brings
January 25, 2006
GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — On these snow-covered hills, the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment is training to fight Iraqi insurgents and conventional forces from a neighboring country in the same battle.
It’s known as “full-spectrum operations” — the military buzzword for training platoons for combined-arms operations in both counterinsurgency and high-intensity conflict, said the unit’s operations officer, Maj. Scott O’Neal.
The live-fire training kicked off Monday morning with the cavalry unit’s Bradley fighting vehicles rolling up to a collection of plywood building facades set up on a range at Grafenwöhr. The crews were to support a notional infantry company clearing insurgents from the buildings, said O’Neal, a 32-year-old Beaufort, S.C., native.
The Bradleys opened up with machine-gun fire on pop-up targets appearing in the windows of the building facades. But gunners only shot white targets: Green ones represented friendly forces.
“The first phase is a counterinsurgency where we try to get the crews to use their weapons systems to support infantry in urban terrain,” O’Neal said. “The (Bradley’s) coaxial machine gun is the most accurate weapon they have in an urban environment in Iraq right now.”
Once the buildings were clear, the Bradleys — acting as scouts — rolled through to search for mechanized forces from the imaginary “Phoenician army” invading across Iraq’s border.
The Bradley crews spotted the enemy and called in mortar fire that started to rain down on a pair of wrecked M-113s at the far end of the range. Then they engaged pop-up infantry targets and light-armored vehicles. But when enemy tanks arrived, it was time to call up their own heavy armor — the unit’s Abrams tanks — which quickly rolled up to join the fight.
“At that stage, we would usually hand over the battle to one of the brigade combat teams behind us,” said the 1-1’s commander, Lt. Col. John Peeler, 41, of Fort Myers, Fla. “Our role is really to hold the enemy at bay until such a time that the brigade combat teams behind us can get involved. We would hold our ground and the heavy forces would roll through.”
The exercise showed the unit’s ability “to transition from a counterinsurgency environment to a high-intensity major combat operations environment,” he said.
The training was run in conjunction with the Iron Warrior exercise, designed to prepare cavalry support soldiers for convoys in combat zones.
The training involved individual soldiers qualifying on M-16s and crew-served weapons, then two-man crews driving a 5-ton M923 truck down a range and engaging pop-up infantry and vehicle targets.
Bradley mechanic Spc. Nathan Deviney, 25, of Gilchrist, Texas, drove an M923 during the training. At regular intervals he had to stop, get out, and start shooting pop-up targets with his M-16 while another soldier blasted vehicle targets with a .50-caliber machine gun from the roof.
The soldier firing the .50-caliber on the roof of Deviney’s truck, Sgt. Mitchell Lyons, 28, of Bemidji, Minn., was on convoys in Iraq when he deployed with 1-1 in 2003. But back then, he was only armed with an M-16, he said.
Lyons, who is also a Bradley mechanic, said there was a big emphasis on talking to the other crew member during Iron Warrior.
“We are communicating more like a Bradley or tank crew,” he said.