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Pfc. Matthew Elder of the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade’s 4th Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, fires .50-caliber blank rounds toward opposition forces and pop-up targets Friday at Rodriguez Range, South Korea.

Pfc. Matthew Elder of the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade’s 4th Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, fires .50-caliber blank rounds toward opposition forces and pop-up targets Friday at Rodriguez Range, South Korea. (Erik Slavin / S&S)

A 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade soldier helps a “wounded” comrade Friday at Rodriguez Range during preparation for a live-fire exercise.

A 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade soldier helps a “wounded” comrade Friday at Rodriguez Range during preparation for a live-fire exercise. (Erik Slavin / S&S)

A 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade soldier helps a “wounded” comrade Friday at Rodriguez Range in preparation for a live-fire exercise.

A 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade soldier helps a “wounded” comrade Friday at Rodriguez Range in preparation for a live-fire exercise. (Erik Slavin / S&S)

A 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade soldier helps a “wounded” comrade Friday at Rodriguez Range in preparation for a live fire-exercise. Soldiers from throughout the brigade participated in convoy scenarios at the range’s mock village and at Warrior Valley this past week.

A 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade soldier helps a “wounded” comrade Friday at Rodriguez Range in preparation for a live fire-exercise. Soldiers from throughout the brigade participated in convoy scenarios at the range’s mock village and at Warrior Valley this past week. (Erik Slavin / S&S)

Soldiers from the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade’s 4th Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment react to pop-up targets and opposition fire with blank rounds Friday at Rodriguez Range, South Korea, in preparation for a live-fire exercise.

Soldiers from the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade’s 4th Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment react to pop-up targets and opposition fire with blank rounds Friday at Rodriguez Range, South Korea, in preparation for a live-fire exercise. (Erik Slavin / S&S)

This story has been updated since its original publication. See this Nov. 7 correction for details.

RODRIGUEZ RANGE, South Korea — As anyone patrolling a combat zone knows, there is a lot more to defending a convoy than “pointing and shooting.”

Knowing when not to shoot and knowing where the muzzles are pointed at all times are among the basics, soldiers say.

When attacked, finding cover, establishing fire superiority and setting up security require practice and precision.

Last week, the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade got that practice in blank and live-fire convoy scenarios at Rodriguez Range.

Twenty-seven soldiers from five battalions and the brigade headquarters participated in the convoys.

Most of them were working well outside their job descriptions. Helicopter mechanics and air traffic controllers don’t get much time to practice ground wars. While they may not get training as intensive as their infantry counterparts, they will be able to handle themselves in a firefight, soldiers said.

“It will give the newer soldiers a base to work with, so they have a better idea of how things should go,” said Staff Sgt. Gary Jager, an Afghanistan veteran now serving in the 4th Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment.

Many of the soldiers training on Friday already had been to Iraq and were passing on their experiences, Jager added.

The scenarios varied with each convoy. Each would roll through the range’s mock village, complete with concrete homes and apartment buildings where “opposing forces” were hiding.

As they entered, artillery simulators and roadside bombs broke the silence as “the bad guys” popped out with their own weapons. Course controllers could tag soldiers as dead or wounded. They also could label a vehicle as disabled.

After exiting the mock village, the convoys rolled through new obstacles in Warrior Valley. On Friday, the soldiers used blank rounds at the valley to prepare for Saturday’s scheduled live-fire shoot.

As the bomb simulators boomed nearby, several green targets popped up at varying distances and intervals.

Several troops said they enjoyed spending their ammunition, but soldiers with the big guns, such as MK-19 gunner Spc. Erin Severe, seemed to enjoy it just a little bit more. This was Severe’s fourth convoy exercise in the Army.

“They’re making it a lot more realistic,” Severe said. “They’re still emphasizing safety, but there is a lot more to it compared to what I’ve done in the past.”

The brigade gets to do these exercises about three times a year, said 602nd Aviation Support Battalion commander Lt. Col. Gregory Fawcett.

There is a big difference in the soldiers’ comfort level by the time they finish, Fawcett said.

“We are getting them confident with their weapons and with themselves,” he said. “When the call comes to be in a convoy … they could be in a 100-vehicle convoy rolling through an MSR (main supply route) in Iraq. We’re preparing them to know what to do.”

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