FORT IRWIN, Calif. – The soldiers of Reconnaissance Platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, zip tied their high value target and called for an extraction. Less than 10 minutes on the ground and they had their man.
The 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, continued their rotation at the National Training Center with an aerial reaction force mission to secure a high value target during a situational training exercise Nov. 10.
The platoon was notified that they had a notional “go” to arrest a targeted enemy combatant. The target to be captured was hiding in a cave with a personal security detachment providing him protection said 1st Lt. Kyle Payne, platoon leader of Recon. Plt., HHC, 2-1 Inf., 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
“As soon as we landed, we started receiving fire from the hilltops around the landing zone,” said Sgt. Michael Haggman, Recon. Plt., HHC, 2-1 Inf., “We laid down suppressive fire and flanked the enemy that held the high ground, while Sgt. Geiss’s team entered the cave.”
“Once we entered the cave, the HVT we were looking for came out of a spider hole,” said Sgt. Christopher Geiss, Recon. Plt., HHC, 2-1 Inf., “The platoon leader grabbed him and took him to the ground.”
“One team led by Sgt. 1st Class Bailey was able to successfully neutralize the targets on the high ground, including an enemy sniper and a machine gun nest,” said Payne, “We secured the detainee, regrouped and consolidated at the entrance to the cave. Then we called in the birds to come and get us.”
“The whole mission took approximately 16 minutes,” said Payne, of St. Maries, Idaho. “It went very [smoothly], considering the short notice we were given going into it.”
The soldiers involved exited the aircraft and gathered around their vehicles after the situational training exercise. They laughed and joked while discussing the success of the mission, all of them in good spirits.
“Everyone was pumped up and excited about the mission today,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Bailey, Fort Worth, Texas, Recon. Plt., HHC, 2-1 Inf. “When these guys went through tryouts for the platoon five months ago, I promised them we would get cool missions. So every time we get missions like this, they get really excited.”
“Our morale was very high because we love our jobs. Everyone here volunteered to be in the reconnaissance platoon,” said Geiss, of Montague, N.J. “The leadership is fantastic, and it’s fun stuff. Where else can you get paid to do what we do?”
The members of the Reconnaissance Platoon expect to see similar missions should they deploy to Afghanistan in the future.
“I hope we keep getting good training like this,” said Haggman, of Fort Meyers, Fla. “I’ve learned a lot from this rotation to the NTC. I think the NTC has changed over the last few years. It has become more oriented to the threats we will face in Afghanistan.”
“I think the training here helps the new guys a lot,” said Bailey. “I don’t think they grasp what they are getting into. The training here gives them a realistic perspective of what it will be like when they go downrange.”
“While we are here, the mission takes priority over all else,” said Payne. “There are no other distractions here, allowing the guys to focus on the mission and only the mission, preparing them for what we will see when we deploy.”
At the end of a successful mission, the platoon loaded into their Strykers and returned to Forward Operating Base Denver to reset their gear and prepare for full-spectrum operations. With a big win under its belt, the platoon looked forward to the challenges ahead.