FORT HOOD, TX, UNITED STATES
FORT HOOD, Texas – The infantry squad slowly and silently made their way through the damp woods. They broke off into two teams before coming to the edge of a clearing that sat right before their objective: an enemy bunker. There was a tense look in their eyes.
Alpha team began firing fiercely at the enemy’s position as Bravo team bounded toward their next position. The enemy returned fire at Alpha as Bravo slipped into the bunker’s blind spot.
With adrenaline pumping Pvt. Roberto Arcos, a member of Bravo, bounded up the berm, hit the ground and crawled as fast as he could toward the side of the bunker. Sweating and breathing hard while moving under the weight of his equipment, he made it toward the bunker’s opening and pulled out a grenade, pulled the pin, and threw it into the bunker. He then quickly rolled away before the bunker exploded.
This was one of many drills, squads from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, conducted as part of their routine training May 13-16 on Fort Hood.
“We are conducting squad live fire training,” said Staff Sgt. Dylan Ryan, a squad leader with A Company. “This consists of three main battle drills: initial breach of a mine wire obstacle, squad attack and knocking out a bunker.”
Ryan said much of their training is based on conventional warfare tactics, but is tailored to what current operational environments are demanding.
“The react to contact battle drill has simple parts: you have support by fire and a flanking element,” Ryan said. “You can use those main two elements in any type of situation you would find yourself in where receiving contact regardless of the terrain.”
Ryan said communication in these scenarios is important. The squad would not be able to function if its members were not in constant communication.
“If we don’t have that communication we fail each other and we fail our battle buddies,” said Pvt. Tyler Alarcon, an infantryman with A co. “We have to use whatever we can: flares, smoke, hand signals and if all else fails we yell at the top of our lungs. We have to be precise and we have to keep our eyes and ears open.”
Maintaining high training standards is important, said Ryan. By maintaining high standards during training the unit helps ensures mission success.
“We have to start out with keeping high standards with the basics; the basics are where we grow from,” said Alarcon. “When we hold a high standard for basic skills, we ensure a smooth progression to the more advance skills. If you are not training hard than you are not going to push yourself when you are out there. You have to make every training scenario the same as you are downrange. There is no slacking off; if you cannot train hard you definitely cannot play hard.”
Ryan said his squad is made up of many relatively new Soldiers, many of whom have never deployed. Only himself and his two team leaders have been deployed.
“A lot of the new Soldiers join the Infantry because they want to deploy,” said Ryan. “To get them ready we train as we normally would because that is how the Army, especially the infantry, always trains. Whether or not we are expecting deployment, we are always ready to do our job.”
For Ryan, giving his Soldiers the highest quality training possible is very important. He is the squad leader now, but there will be a time when he leaves and the Soldiers here today will still be in the Army.
The squad is the best in the company, said Alarcon. Alpha team proved to be the best in the unit’s last team live fire exercise and he has the utmost confidence in their ability.
“I know our squad will do the same because I have no doubt that our Bravo team is right along side us in terms of capability,” said Alarcon. “When we are working together as a squad element we are unstoppable.”
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This work, Squads Stay Mission Ready, by SSG Samuel Northrup, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.