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    Mission Readiness Exercise tests the 'Hurricane' Battalion's strength

    Mission Readiness Exercise tests the 'Hurricane' Battalion's strength

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Aidana Baez | Mission Readiness Exercise tests the 'Hurricane' Battalion's strength... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Aidana Baez 

    53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team

    MCGREGOR RANGE, N.M. – With rolling waves of sand to their southeast, the Organ Mountains to their northwest, and no access to the nearest city of Chaparral, New Mexico, the Soldiers of Company C, 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, stationed in Miami, Florida, can only rely on themselves and their leaders.

    Twenty-seven miles north of Fort Bliss, Texas, lies the small and isolated training site known as Forward Operating Base Ubique where, for eight sun-scorched days and seven cold windy nights, the sweat sodden Soldiers of Company C manned their posts and rested their heads.

    Company C, along with the rest of Task Force Hurricane, is participating in a mission readiness exercise during their post mobilization training. The purpose of the exercise is to validate the Task Force for the upcoming deployment.

    Being this secluded from the rest of the Task Force is vital to the training exercise, said Staff Sgt. Pedro L. Montero, a 28-year old firefighter and resident of the City of Miami, Florida, We are going to have limited resources in Kenya, so we have to stick together to get the mission done.

    Participating in the mission readiness exercise allows commanders at every level to evaluate their unit’s capabilities and to ensure each Soldier is ready and able to perform their mission.

    The platoon live fire exercise was an excellent training opportunity for all of us, said Montero. Especially for the new Soldiers who have never done it and for the leadership to see how we perform as a platoon.

    While the platoon-live-fire exercise was not a requirement for validation, the Task Force Commander, Lt. Col. Julio Acosta, mandated that companies A, B and C, participate in the training event.

    The ever changing threat compels us, as leaders, to evaluate our capabilities and plan for the worst case scenario, said Acosta. In the event we are called upon to perform a decisive action mission, we need to be ready.

    Montero and the rest of the Soldiers in Company C are scheduled to deploy to Camp Simba, a naval base in Kenya, while the other elements of Task Force Hurricane are deploying to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. Performing base operations and force security is a different type of mission for the combat-seasoned infantry battalion.

    My last deployment was more direct action, said SpC Spencer Goerig, a 23 year old resident of Coral Springs, Florida. This deployment is about force protection and base security, which I didn’t know much about, so this was really good training for me.

    Twenty miles southeast of FOB Ubique, similar in terrain but on a larger scale, is FOB Westbrook. Out of FOB Westbrook Company A, which is stationed in Hollywood, Florida, conducted reconnaissance missions and port security while, Company B, stationed in Cocoa, Florida, conducted base security and area defense. Company D, stationed in West Palm Beach, Florida, served as the quick reaction force for FOB Westbrook and augmented the quick reaction force at FOB Ubique and Company E, stationed in Miramar, Florida, conducted convoy operations by delivering logistical packages to the various training sites occupied by the Task Force.

    I like this training a lot, said Sgt. Carlos E. Arauz, a 26 year old resident of Miami, Florida. Doing exactly what we are going to do overseas is the only way to learn.

    Arauz is assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment whose primary mission for that company is base security for Camp Lemonnier.

    During the MRX we have been doing mostly tower guard, said Arauz. We are the eyes and ears for the whole FOB.

    Each company within the Task Force has a specific mission and although they must be trained according to their mission set, they received training on basic Soldier skills as well.

    We also had combat life saver training, said Pvt. 1st Class Luis E. Sandoval, a 24 year old resident of Doral, Florida. Combat life saver is important because it gives you the skills to be able to save someone’s limb or life.

    All of the training that has led up to the validation during MRX was tailored to be structured through crawl, walk and run phases.

    We started off learning the basics, said Sandoval. We worked our way up from individual skills to squad and platoon level.

    The Soldiers have completed their training, said Command Sgt. Maj. Jasen A. Pask, the enlisted senior advisor to the Task Force commander. Soldiers now have confidence in their abilities to perform their duties and look forward to arriving in Horn of Africa.

    Troop A, 1st Squadron, 153rd Cavalry Regiment, stationed in Bonifay, Florida, spent their time performing base operation at the mock village of Al Hadis located on the perimeter of McGregor Range, New Mexico.

    We took control of the security operations for the Al Hadis and used it as a FOB, said Sgt. Matthew T. Santiago, a resident of Niceville, Florida. We manned security posts, did guard tower duties and controlled the entry control point.

    During the MRX the Soldiers of Troop A typically worked 12 hour shifts for two days on a two day rotation.

    It was rough, but we don’t mind, said Santiago. If we are going to do it we might as well do it the right way.

    If the Soldiers executing the various missions are the life force of the operation, then the Task Force staff is the brain. The staff handles the planning for every facet of the operation and no detail is too small to over look.

    It isn’t so much about having a set plan but rather continuously planning as the mission is being carried out to ensure all of the external factors have been taken into consideration, said 1st Lt. Andrea Valenzuela, a resident of Pembroke Pines, Florida. That is why the staff and what they do is so important because they have to think of everything that will happen, has happened and could happen.

    Just as the companies on the ground were being evaluated for validation, so was the staff. Their planning reaches every Soldier within their organization. If meticulous consideration isn’t taken when preparing an order, the consequences can be severe.

    The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of poor planning is safety of our Soldiers, said Valenzuela. With poor planning we start messing with people’s sleep cycle, so having a realistic plan that deals with the reality of what we are capable of doing is super important.

    With Soldiers performing in four separate locations, convoys moving in and out of the battlefield, and each Soldier responding to scenarios designed to heighten stress levels and test reaction time, the MRX proved to be a training event with gale force winds.



    Date Taken: 05.16.2016
    Date Posted: 05.17.2016 01:33
    Story ID: 198290
    Location: MCGREGOR RANGE, NM, US
    Hometown: BONIFAY, FL, US
    Hometown: COCOA, FL, US
    Hometown: CORAL SPRINGS, FL, US
    Hometown: DORAL, FL, US
    Hometown: HOLLYWOOD, FL, US
    Hometown: MIAMI, FL, US
    Hometown: MIRAMAR, FL, US
    Hometown: NICEVILLE, FL, US
    Hometown: PEMBROKE PINES, FL, US
    Hometown: WEST PALM BEACH, FL, US

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