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A rain-drenched Bravo Company soldier takes cover while under simulated fire from "enemy" guerrilla fighters in a mock village Thursday at Camp Hovey. The mission was part of a five-day exercise for the 2nd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment.

A rain-drenched Bravo Company soldier takes cover while under simulated fire from "enemy" guerrilla fighters in a mock village Thursday at Camp Hovey. The mission was part of a five-day exercise for the 2nd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment. (Erik Slavin / S&S)

A rain-drenched Bravo Company soldier takes cover while under simulated fire from "enemy" guerrilla fighters in a mock village Thursday at Camp Hovey. The mission was part of a five-day exercise for the 2nd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment.

A rain-drenched Bravo Company soldier takes cover while under simulated fire from "enemy" guerrilla fighters in a mock village Thursday at Camp Hovey. The mission was part of a five-day exercise for the 2nd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment. (Erik Slavin / S&S)

An enemy (played by Staff Sgt. Marquis Henderson, right) is subdued as Bravo Company soldiers move in to search a mock village Thursday at Camp Hovey.

An enemy (played by Staff Sgt. Marquis Henderson, right) is subdued as Bravo Company soldiers move in to search a mock village Thursday at Camp Hovey. (Erik Slavin / S&S)

Bravo Company soldiers nab "suspected enemy fighters" during a firefight in a mock urban village Thursday at Camp Hovey.

Bravo Company soldiers nab "suspected enemy fighters" during a firefight in a mock urban village Thursday at Camp Hovey. (Erik Slavin / S&S)

CAMP HOVEY, South Korea — A dazed "refugee" wanders out into the center of the mock village Thursday, drawing a few of Bravo Company’s soldiers into its center.

Others from the 2nd Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment watch for trouble on the perimeter and begin searching buildings.

They don’t see the sniper and the crack of the blank round erupts, leaving one soldier "killed."

People begin ducking out of buildings and running through monsoon rains; they might be civilians or they might be killers. In less than a second, three soldiers get picked off.

The scenario was one of many during 1-72’s Crusader Mace exercise, which ran from Monday through Friday at several different points on camps Casey and Hovey.

For many young soldiers, it was the closest thing they’ve seen to combat. It was also a chance for soldiers like Pfc. Wilbur Knight to become team leaders for the first time in an intense situation.

"This was a big reality check for a lot of people," Knight said. "I think we need to do more training like this."

The exercise’s first alert sounded at 4:30 a.m. Monday. Soldiers began clearing roads to transport refugees.

Along the way, small bands of soldiers acting as special forces units attacked convoys and foot soldiers.

Snipers attacked from the ridge lines surrounding Casey, while others popped out of the bushes. Controllers called soldiers dead if they were caught in the line of fire.

Even a mock death is an uncomfortable experience, soldiers say, but one that they can learn from.

"You sit with your Kevlar off and think about it, about things you could’ve done differently," Spc. Douglas Andersen said.

Meanwhile, enemy soldiers infiltrated the refugee camps. Soldiers used human intelligence techniques to find the infiltrators before they turned other refugees into enemies.

As each scenario unfolded, soldiers called in reports to 1-72 headquarters, which functioned as an operations command center.

Combat veteran Sgt. 1st Class Bernard Mabry told his soldiers that remembering the commander’s intent during a mission will keep them focused during tough moments on a battlefield. And when those tough moments are over, it’s just as important to talk them out with others who were there.

"The movies and everything else, get it out of your mind," Mabry said.

"Build a relationship with your buddies because they’re all you’re going to have in a fight."

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