Lessons learned from Iraq take training to new level
August 3, 2005
PYONGTAEK, South Korea — Last week’s live-fire combat training in which a U.S. Army military police unit in South Korea applied lessons learned from the Iraq war has proved “extremely effective,” the unit’s leaders have concluded.
About 100 soldiers of the 728th Military Police Battalion underwent the training along with South Korean army MPs and infantrymen at Bojeol training range southwest of Taegu.
The aim was to “integrate some of the lessons learned from Iraq,” Maj. John Adams, the battalion’s operations officer, said Monday.
It covered a broad range of skills the MPs would need to do their jobs in wartime — which firing positions work best in which situations, how to hold their automatic weapons so that their fire will be most likely to hit the target, how to use their MP vehicles in ways that afford cover and concealment, among other skills. And squad leaders got training in keeping proper control of their soldiers during the chaos of combat.
“I think it was extremely effective,” said Adams. “Because the battalion commander was able to link the importance of what we were doing with our operating environment here on the peninsula … with the larger contemporary operating environment that the Army is in.”
Lt. Col. Douglas L. Ingros commands the battalion, which is headquartered at Camp Henry in Taegu and nicknamed the “Warfighters.” Ingros served in Iraq with the 4th Infantry Division from March 2003 to March 2004.
“The fact is that we’re an Army at war,” Adams said, “and the commander, being a veteran of Iraq himself, and our battalion command sergeant major, they were able to link it all together.”
Part of the week’s training went to techniques of firing the M249 squad automatic weapon, or SAW.
“Instead of aiming center-mass as you would with a semi-automatic weapon, you want to aim to the lower left, and as the weapon ‘walks up,’ the trajectory of rounds walks up to the upper right, you’re more likely to hit your target,” Adams said.
“We were able to see enormous payoff by the end of the week,” he said. “… I could see for myself the improvement in that short amount of time.”
Training also drilled soldiers in knowing and sticking to vehicle load plans “so that every soldier in that team or that squad knows where every piece of equipment is,” he said.
“The important thing is not just know where it is in your vehicle,” said Adams, “but probably more importantly … where it’s at in your buddy’s vehicle … So if you run out of ammo in your vehicle and you have to go and get some from your buddy’s vehicle, you know where to go … ”
Sgt. Ahn Ji-hwan of the battalion’s 188th Military Police Company learned that in the din of actual combat he’ll have to keep a special focus on seeing and hearing his team or squad leader’s directions. Ahn is a KATUSA, or Korean Augmentee to the U.S. Army.
“When we did blank fire … it was not so noisy,” Ahn said Friday. “But … in live fire … even the whistle was not heard clearly. So I’ve learned that communication in the real world can be much more difficult and I have pay attention to my team leader and squad leader.”