CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – Soldiers learned the complex process of securing and evacuating U.S. citizens and employees from American compounds in hostile nations, during the Raider Response exercise at Udairi Range, Kuwait, June 13-14.
After loading into UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters under the cover of darkness, the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, “Regulars,” 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, augmented by additional elements of the “Raider” Brigade, flew to a simulated U.S. compound at the desert range, where they quickly established a security perimeter and began processing personnel for evacuation.
“The mission that the Army requires of the Regulars is very complex,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Edwards, senior enlisted leader, 1st Bn., 22nd Inf. Reg.
“This training is important so our soldiers clearly understand these complexities, and how to properly execute a noncombatant evacuation operation while in hostile environments and under extreme stress. Innocent civilians’ lives could depend on them, and that is not something we take lightly.”
In addition to gaining a new skill set, the Regulars also learned the importance of flexibility and comfort in a variety of the situations, said Edwards.
“We must be a very adaptable organization, and be able to operate in any operational environment regardless of the mission given,” he said.
As the Regulars processed “civilian employees” for evacuation, simulated indirect fire “wounded” soldiers and civilians alike, as role players dressed like local nationals rioted at the compound’s gates.
Reacting to multiple threats throughout the night added an air of importance and purpose to the exercise, said Spc. Joshua Caulder, infantryman, Company B.
“I’ve never done training like this before, so it’s a good chunk of knowledge to add to my arsenal” Caulder said. “Evacuating civilians can be a complicated process. Maintaining accountability for civilian personnel, in-processing them for flights, and keeping an eye out for possible enemy activity all at the same time is complex. I’m glad we are taking the time to learn how to do all this properly.”
With the compound secure and noncombatants processed, the Regulars called the Blackhawks back in, loaded the civilians on the first set of helicopters, and then took to the skies themselves and as they returned to Camp Buehring.
1st Lt. Martin Harris, platoon leader, Company B, said he valued the knowledge gained during Raider Response.
“As American soldiers, we will always care about the welfare of our countrymen,” Harris said. “As a regional security force, we have to be prepared for situations like the one we encountered tonight. Keeping our citizens calm, getting them organized, and getting them safely out of a dangerous situation is one of the most important jobs we can do as Soldiers, and I am excited that we have the opportunity to learn about these procedures.”