News: Strike promotes Soldier first
Story by Sgt. Joe Padula
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), is very well known for its long lineage of great infantry units. The 502nd Infantry Regiment fought in battles like the Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge. They also defeated tough enemies in Vietnam. They were able to maintain peace in war-torn regions like Sinai, Panama and Kosovo. The 502nd also set the tone for victory in both Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.
In late 2009, the call for more Soldiers to the Afghan front was made and the Strike Brigade immediately answered that call. The 2nd BCT is now readying all of its Soldiers for its next fight, no matter their job.
Soldiers with Company G, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, shows that it does believe in the term "Soldier first" as they prepare their Soldier for combat operations with such exercises like Battle Drill Six-A.
The drill is a high-intense infantry skilled training session which trains Soldiers on entering and clearing buildings, reflexive fire, and "shoot or no-shoot" situations. This special training is mostly used by infantry line units, but this support company also uses it to perfect their Soldiers.
"You got cooks, you got mechanics, you got fuel handlers, a variety of individuals training to do this shoot house, which is very rare for a support company," said 1st Sgt. Tracey Martin, the company's first sergeant. "It's eleven bravo first, then we do our other jobs and that is how we train. Soldier first is very important."
The support company is building maneuver teams within its platoon. Due to the desolate and unpredictable region, the fight within the Afghan border calls for forces units to be more tactical thus promoting a greater focus on combat and soldiering skills. This support company plans to have exactly those types of Soldiers.
"This platoon needs to know their MOS but they need to know how to fight as well," said 2nd Lt. Sherry Beller, a platoon leader with the company. "As a maneuver platoon, we will be in the fight, whether it's kicking in doors, patrolling or recon, we need to be ready for all missions."
Afghanistan is known for its unforgiving terrain and its intolerant mountains and most support companies deploying to that region will be following in the company's footsteps by training as Soldiers first.
"Being a support company, we could be thrown into any situation," said Spc. Stafford Davis, a motor transport specialist with Co. G. "The last thing I expected was to be placed on a team like this. I figured I'd be just driving trucks; the fact that I'm learning this gives me confidence in just plain old soldiering because where we're going, there's only so much truck driving we are going to be doing."
Each team pushed through the training house and with proper maneuvering techniques, eliminated hostile targets and disengaged those posing no threat. The teams ran through the various scenarios' using both blank ammunition and live-rounds.
"Doing it here for the first time will better us for when we're doing it there, especially in room-clearing situations," said Sgt. Matthew Burket, with Co. G. "Shooting the live-rounds is also getting us more comfortable with each other and it's helped our squad out and the rest of the company. We all may not be in a combat MOS, but we're ready to go when called."
During the training, Fort Campbell was seeing plenty of snowfall and temperatures were bottoming out at around 14 degrees, but training for deployments means training in any condition, no matter how harsh they may be.
"It's going to be cold in Afghanistan and cold-weather training is extremely important," said 1st. Lt. Rowan Webster, the company's executive officer. "It was a whole lot different with Iraq, back then we trained for heat, but now we train for the Afghanistan scenario."
The Strike Brigade always trains as realistic and as pragmatic to what challenges will face them in the future. This goes for their infantry units, their artillery units, and as proven with the recent exercise, its field support companies as well.
Capt. Robert Kinney, the commander of this multi-functional company said, "We need to be prepared to secure ourselves, secure others and secure the populace and the only way to do that is to train small teams, then sections, then the platoon, so regardless of the mission set, we'll be able to accomplish anything thrown our way."