By Maj. James Scott
Taylor, 81st Public Affairs Office
Soldiers from the 81st Heavy Brigade Combat
Team (HBCT) conducted 24-hour operations training at Fort McCoy
as part of their preparation for deployment to Iraq.
Cpl. Shane Carter of the 1st,
161st Combined Arms Battalion searches a civilian role player
during checkpoint operations. (Photo
by Sgt. Amanda Gauthier)
at sites constructed to simulate conditions in Iraq, Soldiers trained
with newly issued equipment ranging from computers located in tactical
operation centers to heavily armored wheeled vehicles equipped with
percent is that the guys are motivated and they are getting to do what
they came in the Guard to do," said 1st, 161st Combined Arms
Battalion (CAB) Commander Lt. Col. Gregory Allen regarding the morale
of his Soldiers and the status of training.
have some things we need to work out, but overall things are going
well," continued Allen, an Active Guard and Reserve officer.
asked about challenges the brigade faces while in this phase of
training, 81st HBCT Deputy Commanding Officer Col. Christopher Fowler
said that the 81st HBCT continues to respond effectively by creating
and applying practicable solutions.
Soldiers from the 1st, 161st CAB conducted realistic training at
Contingency Operating Location (COL) Freedom employing individual
Soldier skills they learned while training at the Yakima Training
Center prior to their arrival. They also began learning to conduct
combat operations as a platoon- and company-sized military team.
COL Freedom, servicemembers from the 81st HBCT engaged in daily
activities like manning guard towers and entry control points and
participating in convoy and patrol security missions.
for these activities was required. Soldiers had the opportunity to
apply numerous skills, such as conducting vehicle maintenance, testing
their crew served weapons and practicing crew battle drills all the
while responding to random simulated indirect fire and small-arms fire
such as a drop-off laundry facility and a small post exchange, which
was stocked with snacks and personal hygiene products, were available
to Soldiers during their stay at COL Freedom.
are running 24-hour operations, focusing on convoy security as well as
base security," said 1st, 161st CAB Engineer Officer Capt. David
Whatcom County Deputy and 18-year veteran Libby said, "We are
getting attacked on the convoys by improvised explosive devices or
small-arms fire or the combination of both. We also have to interact
with the locals, played by (Civilian on the Battlefield) role
is very important that we learn to use more than just our guns to
resolve our issues," said Libby.
Freedom also had a battalion aid station that was manned by 81st HBCT
asked about his confidence in his skills as a medic, Headquarters and
Headquarters Company, 1st, 161st CAB Spc. Adam M. Rieker said, "I
was not as confident until after I went to the pre-deployment
refresher course in San Antonio in July 2008. I am very confident now
in my skills as a medic."
U.S. Forest Service employee and Yakima, Wash., native Reiker
continued, "I was a kid when I saw "Black Hawk Down"
and thought it was pretty sweet how a medic can save someone’s life.
I decided that I wanted to be an Army medic when I saw that
a Seattle police lieutenant and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran said,
"Training is going well and Soldiers are motivated. Leaders are
doing what they are supposed to do by identifying areas to sustain,
while at the same time identifying areas to improve."
(Taylor is the Public Affairs Officer for the 81st HBCT of the
Washington Army National Guard.)