News: Special operations combat course takes soldiers back to basics
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy D. Crisp
FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Two weeks of blood, sweat and back-to-basics training were what special operations forces soldiers got a taste of here, July 15–29, during the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) “Special Forces Basic Combat Course – Support."
More than 100 support soldiers, deploying in support of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan, took to the ranges so when they deploy are ready to fight alongside of and support the various services special operators.
“The overall objective of the course is to get personnel going downrange trained and able to fit into the special operations forces community,” said Capt. Jacob Snyder, officer-in-charge of training at the course and detachment commander, Operational Detachment - Alpha 3135. “The course gives them confidence, and we need that because they are the ones that make our job possible downrange.”
Snyder and his ODA, with a training schedule set down by the group command, took the soldiers back to skill level - one exercises the first day before working to advanced-level skills and a culmination exercise the last night of the event.
Soldiers repeatedly took apart and put back together the main weapons systems they will see while deployed: .50-caliber M2, M249, M240, MK19 grenade launcher and their personal M4s.
They practiced malfunctions drills on each weapon system before putting them to use.
Advanced live-fire movements followed, with ‘up drills,’ getting down under fire, night-fire with night optic devices and military operations in urban terrain combined with first aid and medical evacuation training.
“There was a lot of muscle memory,” said Pfc. Youa Thao, a terrain analyst from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd SFG. “There was a lot of team building, and I feel familiar now with every weapons system.”
Thao, 22, from Stevens Port, Wis., has been in the Army less than two years and hasn’t deployed. “It’s the first time I’ve touched some of these types of weapons since basic training,” he said. “It’s good trigger time.”
Advanced medical training followed ‘trigger time,’ with SF medics teaching optional litter carries as well as how to belay a casualty down a steep decline.
Training stayed advanced the latter half of the course, as soldiers ran Humvees up and down steep slopes and through pits of water four feet deep in preparation for their culmination exercise, the convoy, night live-fire exercise.
“They will put together everything they’ve learned to this point and use those skills during the culmination exercise,” Snyder said, the day before the last event.
Before leading to the final day of the course, however, instructors and students noted that not all the training was in the memorandum of instruction for the two-week time period. A lot of it came indirectly.
“It was great to learn about the ODA, the instructors, and just to see how an ODA works, so we know a little bit more about whom we will support,” said 1st Lt. Heather C. Merritt from the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Illinois Army National Guard.
Snyder said the course helped his team as well.
“The course has a dual purpose, as this was a great training event for us,” he said. “It helped us work on everything from the training process to personnel logistics. It was a great team-building event for us. Plus, a huge part of our mission is unconventional warfare and foreign internal defense, which means we are constantly training other forces. This course mimics what ODAs are good at.”
The culmination exercise rounded the course out successfully, July 28, with weapons maintenance the following day.
According to the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne) regulation 350-1, support soldiers must complete SFBCC-S within one year of assignment to a Special Forces unit, or prior to a combat deployment. If not in a deployment status, soldiers assigned to a Special Forces unit will complete the course every two years in the active Army, and every three years for Army National Guard soldiers.