News: Train as you fight: A motto the 94th Military Police Company takes seriously
Story by Spc. Anthony Zane
GILEAD, Maine – Army Reserve soldiers need to retain the necessary combat skills in the event of deployment. Soldiers from the 94th Military Police Company from Londonderry, N.H., participated in a field training exercise April 14 at the Bog Brook Maine Army National Guard training site in Gilead, Maine, to improve their combat readiness skills.
The soldiers were placed in a simulated village built to be a representation of what they may encounter during deployment.
There were two primary objectives to this training, said Master Sgt. Larry Gray, company operations sergeant, 94th MP Company. The first was to identify and capture a high-value target if possible and the second was to recover a specific classified device that has been placed in one of the buildings.
“Once they recover those two objectives then we do an ENDEX [end exercise] review of the mission,” said Gray. “But during the whole process they’re moving into each building, they’re clearing rooms and they’re checking for booby traps.”
The use of simulated explosives added a more realistic combat experience for the soldiers.
“With the resources we have we’ve booby-trapped most of the buildings using the training improvised explosive devices [IED] and trip wires for the booby traps on the doors using ‘bouncing betties’ and any time they blow up, it blows out a white powder that’s not dangerous to them,” said Gray.
The life-like artificial village at the Bog Brook training site provided soldiers with the proper tactical setting for the exercise.
“Our mission today was a cordon and search mission,” said Sgt. Sean Donovan, squad leader, 94th MP Company, from Malden, Mass. “We basically had to provide 360-security once the cordon was up in the town. We had a search element [team] that was going through to capture one high-priority target, and one piece of intelligence equipment.”
After sitting through many tactical classroom trainings, experiencing this field exercise brought everything full circle, said Donovan.
The study of tactical combat situations in a classroom and experiencing them first-hand reinforces the skills and techniques soldiers need.
“Most of our training is in an auditorium or a classroom watching power points,” said Gray. “This is not how you train soldiers. You can’t win in combat if you’re sitting in a classroom.”
“It was very realistic,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Thurber, squad leader, 94th MP Company from Mansfield, Mass. “We actually got paint-balled so you knew when you got hit. You knew when you hit the targets too, so that was absolutely phenomenal.”
The training also included disguised soldiers dressed in authentic Middle Eastern wardrobe posing as the enemy and civilians.
“They also had the Afghan attire which was great, so you knew who the targets were of the personnel that were walking around in the village,” said Thurber.
"It was fun to get out here in the field and actually do it," said Cpl. Anthony Bedard, team leader, 94th MP Company, from Dover, N.H.
"Going through the training with a motivated team and getting feedback about your performance, not just about where you are at as individuals but also as a team, is important," said Bedard. "We got a lot of out of the training, especially with the confusion that ensues in any type of combat situation. It gives soldiers a better idea of what it is like to be in a real-life combat situation."
Through the chaos and confusion of the intense day of training, instructors were pleased with the soldiers’ performances.
“It’s part of our mental training and it’s one of our collective tasks as far as conducting urban operations and clearing buildings,” said Gray.
Despite the fact that the training was one day the soldiers accomplished the mission successfully and sharpened their combat skills, which is something they don’t acquire in the classroom.
“If the soldiers can do this once a quarter and had all the resources it would be an excellent opportunity for them,” said Gray. “They are going to learn more. They’re going to retain that knowledge. And that is what they’re going to need to survive.”