Mock raid gets soldiers’ blood pumping at Rodriguez Range
Stars and Stripes August 9, 2006
RODRIGUEZ RANGE, South Korea — Of the 70 or so soldiers geared up in the 90 degree-plus heat at Rodriguez Range’s Jung Sa-ri mock village last week, most had only one or two stripes’ worth of experience in the Army.
Some of their training from July 28 to Tuesday was routine qualification, but events like the platoon-level village raid held Thursday gave the 2nd Infantry Division, 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment’s “Manchus” a taste of what they should expect when deployed to combat zones.
Even before the raid began, searing sun and humidity had some soldiers looking as if they had showered in their uniforms. Noncommissioned officers barked out colorfully worded commands to hydrate throughout the day.
Despite the heat, the Manchus would need their best effort. They would storm apartment buildings and houses in a nonstop raid complete with simulated artillery explosions, opposing forces and blank fire seemingly coming from everywhere.
“It’s OK if things get a little ‘vocal,’ ” Company B commander Capt. Trevor Cobb told his lieutenants and noncommissioned officers before the exercise began.
A few soldiers nodded in agreement. Communication coming from squad and team leaders would prove challenging in the midst of all the noise.
When the exercise began, soldiers got down in the grass and white rock paths, providing rear security. Others made their way into a multistory building. As they searched each room, the gunfire began. The Manchus answered with machine gunners at floor level and from the rooftop.
While the fire and artillery intensified, other teams entered an adjacent multistory building searching for opposing forces. Soldiers had to determine quickly what fire came from fellow soldiers and what was from opposing forces.
“At first, you don’t know,” said Pfc. Kevin Jensen. “Then you get some knowledge of where all the squads are.”
The sound plays a big part, Jensen added.
With the first building secure, teams scurried to two houses, where they engaged with enemies and took “casualties.”
Inside, speakers blared the sounds of a screaming woman and Arabic chants. They found enemies in rooms and closets; a few even jumped up from behind.
“It’s a lot of stress, people are yelling things,” said Pfc. Sean Long. “You get the whole thing 360 degrees.”
The soldiers concentrated on other tasks as well during training. They completed Bradley and small-arms qualifications, road marches, recovery operations and more, Cobb said.
However, several of the younger soldiers said Thursday that the raid was what got their blood pumping.
“It’s the first time we’ve done this as a platoon for a while,” said Staff Sgt. Tyler Burgo. “It’s the kind of training that will serve junior infantrymen well when they experience the real thing.”