News: Soldiers prepare for their first deployment through tough effective training
Story by Staff Sgt. Antwaun Parrish
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – A team of soldiers provides 360-degree security outside of a two-story shanty house. Meanwhile, another team lines along the front gate and yells for the occupants to evacuate the building. This was the scene at Leschi Town, after the soldiers completed an air assault drop to conduct counterinsurgency operations at the simulated Afghan village here.
“It was my first time flying in a Black Hawk, and I must admit I was nervous, but yet excited at the same time” said Spc. Ronald Williams, an infantryman assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion 17th Infantry Regiment.
The training is in preparation for the unit’s upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
“We have maintained a rigorous training schedule in order to ensure that our unit is knowledgeable of all the skills they need to be successful in Afghanistan,” said Capt. Sean Nolan, Company C commander, 1st Bn., 17th Inf. Regt.
For Spc. James Wright, a medic, this will be his first deployment. During the mission, he not only performed his required combat lifesaver skills; he also cross-trained learning infantry tactics.
“As a medic, my team is pretty proficient,” said Wright, a native of Detroit. “It was awesome that I got the chance to load an aircraft. It’s something I never thought about doing.”
While training in Leschi Town an urban town built for training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. The soldiers got a chance to work on the Army’s new method of searching homes known as “call-outs.”
“A call-out is unlike a traditional raid,” said Nolan, a native of Sugarland, Texas. “It’s focused on protecting non-threatening civilians.”
Once the call-out team gets the occupants to leave the house, it faces even more challenges than before they left. It must search civilians and detain anyone who becomes a threat, or has the possibility of becoming one.
Williams, who speaks with a distinct southern accent, explained that it’s important to avoid threatening the civilians.
“We don’t want to be too aggressive; we are here to do business but not to be a threat,” said Williams. “We want to work with them.
While observing his sector of security, Williams explained that he felt the most challenging portion of the training was operating in an urban environment, unlike the open area training he’s used to.
“It’s more realistic,” said Williams, a native of Elton, La. “It shows me that I need to be more aware of my surroundings. The enemy has more ways to sneak an attack.”
Counterinsurgency operations often involve Afghanistan National Security Forces to dissolve any threats to the country.
ANSF role players fought alongside the soldiers, and wore battle dress uniforms. While deployed, the soldiers will be working with the forces during the counterinsurgency operations.
Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Lazzarini knows how important training is with a deployment on the horizon, since he has been deployed three times to Iraq and looks forward to his first time in Afghanistan.
“I want the soldiers to really take the training serious and relate it to real-world scenarios,” said Lazzarini, a native of Carlsbad, Calif. “When we get there, it’s no time to ask questions. They have to be ready to execute.”
Williams stated that he appreciates the rigorous training thus far and understands its importance.
“Most of us need the training and constant drilling so we won’t lose focus," said Williams. “For soldiers like myself who haven’t been deployed, it gives us a good foundation,”
Lazzarini believes that experience, familiarity and confidence are key factors of a successful mission.
“Understanding multiple scenarios is a good concept,” said Lazzarini. “It’s good leverage for the mission.”
Williams feels the training provided him effective insight on how it will be during the deployment.
“We plan to rock it and be as proficient as we can be,” said Wright.