News: Army Reserve Best Warriors tackle urban combat event
Story by Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. - When Sgt. Christopher Meyer and his team of fellow Army Reserve Soldiers tactically entered the ramshackle village, they were met with smoke, explosions and simulated small-arms fire.
This Military Operations on Urban Terrain event was just one challenge Meyer and his fellow competitors must face as part of the Best Warrior Competition being hosted by the Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command and 76th Operational Response Command this week at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
“I’m used to being in dangerous situations, I’m used to having the balance of life and death in my hands, I’m used to giving medical care, but I’m not used to combat,” said Meyer, a former Army firefighter who now serves with the Army Reserve’s 302nd Information Operations Battalion headquartered at Fort Totten, N.Y. “Every Soldier, at the end of the day, is an [infantryman] – every Soldier has to be able to fight and shoot and move and make decisions under stress.”
MOUT training simulates an urban combat environment by having Soldiers navigate through structures ranging from a few buildings to an entire small town filled with role-players acting as both hostile and friendly inhabitants. Those navigating the MOUT site are subjected to various types of attacks while trying to accomplish a mission, such as evacuating a casualty.
“This is the type of war fighting we’re seeing downrange, in regard to clearing buildings, clearing rooms, reacting to improvised explosive devices,” explained Command Sgt. Maj. Jesus DeJesus, command sergeant major of the 302nd IO Battalion and human resources specialist as a civilian with the 99th RSC. “There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle, and everyone has to work to bring those pieces together.”
In addition to the MOUT event, the Best Warrior Competition tests these citizen-Soldiers’ warrior skills with events such as the Army Physical Fitness Test, M16 qualification and “move and shoot” ranges, hand-to-hand combatives, day and night land navigation courses and a road march.
“All that decision-making, all that physical training, going to the ranges, combatives – this is the one event that puts it all together and says, ‘How do you integrate all of these skills, and can you use them in a practical environment,’” Meyer said of the MOUT event. “Getting more practice in making decisions in that environment does nothing but help you.”