News: Centurions host culmination exercise
Story by Sgt. John Couffer
FORT HOOD, Texas – It was a clear day for training. The sun was out, the temperature cool and a light breeze brushed the skin of soldiers in training. Suddenly, while on patrol, a squad of soldiers spotted a simulated wounded soldier on the ground. Some members of the squad-sized element began pulling security, other members shouted orders while two administered first aid under simulated small-arms fire.
Soldiers of the 1st “Centurion” Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, executed and participated in Operation Centurion Warrior, Dec. 10 to 12 here.
The exercise was conducted to ensure Centurion Soldiers were trained and proficient in their Army Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills.
Evart, Mich., native 2nd Lt. Brian Ermatinger, an operations officer and the primary facilitator of the training exercise, assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the Centurion battalion, said the exercise used the crawl-walk-run training model and focused on basic skills Soldiers should know and be efficient at while training or in combat.
“It involves everyone from the company commander all the way down to the individual soldier in leading and developing them,” Ermatinger said.
According to Ermatinger, the exercise covered many tasks and drills to include: grenade training, weapons functions, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training and reacting to contact. Other classes included: improvised explosive device training, vehicle and personnel searches, land navigation, reconnaissance, communications and first aid.
Senior Centurion battalion medic and Whitney, Texas native, Staff Sgt. Kyle Howard explained the importance of first aid training.
“Getting every soldier smart on first aid is paramount, no matter how many times you can train on it, it’s a perishable skill,” Howard said.
Howard, who headed the first aid training lane, said soldiers received training on evaluating a casualty, controlling bleeding and airway, transporting a casualty and how to call up a 9-line medical evacuation report.
“My lane entailed evaluation of a casualty, control bleeding, control airway, then we had transporting a casualty and calling up a 9-line medical evacuation request,” Howard said.
Another skill soldiers should know, according to Howard, is how to load wounded soldiers into a Field Litter Ambulance, which was part of his lane. He said loading the wounded by precedence is crucial, especially when the FLA arrives to a hospital, it will be unloaded in the opposite order.
Howard said learning first aid and buddy aid should be number one because most personnel applying aid to the wounded are fellow soldiers and first-line leaders when deployed.
Ermatinger further emphasized the importance of medical training.
“I believe it’s very important. I mean we train as we fight so we need to be proficient in these skills,” Ermatinger said. “These are the skills that will help soldiers save their lives and others’, and do their jobs proficiently when they’re deployed.”
Army Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills are an annual requirement which allows soldiers to not only improve on current tasks, but learn additional tasks they may not know.
Galveston, Texas, native, Spc. Gustavo Gutierrez, a combat engineer assigned to Company C of the Centurion battalion said he learned how to work with an advanced version of the Army’s Single Channel Ground Air Radio System while participating in the communications training.
“Coming (to training) actually taught me how to operate and properly learn the methods of (the radio),” Gutierrez said.
He said while in his last unit he used a different radio system. Now, his fellow soldiers taught him how to properly operate and to know all the functions of the SINCGARS radio.
Even though Gutierrez learned something new, he said he most liked the IED training because, like other Army tasks, it may be forgotten if not taught every so often.
“It’s a perishable skill that needs to be taught,” Gutierrez said. He added the IED training lane allows soldiers, who are not normally trained on the subject, to know how to react in the event of IEDs.
Another soldier who participated in the exercise said that he too learned something new.
“I think I refreshed myself on a little bit of the different ways to employ grenades as well as some of the stuff for tactical combat casualty care,” said Orange, Va., native Sgt. Anthony Schienschang, a military police officer also assigned to HHC of the Centurion battalion.
Schienschang said he liked the first aid portion of the exercise, but that he also found it challenging.
“I found it challenging because you had to take care of your casualty, protect them, effectively engage the enemy and still maneuver your troops all while calling in a 9-line,” Schienschang said.
Like Ermatinger, Schienschang said being proficient in basic common tasks are necessary and important.
“I think that it’s essential that we go back over the basics because if you lose focus and lose touch with what you have to do as a soldier, then you’re not an effective war fighter,” Schienschang said.
Ermatinger said he thought the exercise went well, that it was good for morale and an overall good event. He also mentioned that he sees the Centurion battalion holding similar events in the future.