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Soldiers complete urban ops training

Published: 02:12PM January 13th, 2012

Capt. Andrew Feske

A unit of 1-94 FA Soldiers dashes to a building in Kuwait's Udari Range Complex to begin clearing it during urban operations training.

KUWAIT — In preparation for Operation Inferno Creek, an upcoming multinational joint training mission in Oman, 1st Platoon, 125th Fire Support Company of 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment from Joint Base Lewis-McChord conducted four straight days of urban operations training at the Kuwait Armed Forces Training Center at the Udari Range Complex. This intensive training culminated in a platoon live-fire attack on a small compound.

In the days leading up to the final exercise, 1st Platoon practiced team and squad attacks and building-clearing tactics that emphasized squad-sized elements.

“The Soldiers have progressed greatly from the first time we went through this type of training back in July,” 1st Platoon Leader 2nd Lt. Brian Bierwirth said. “It really is a night-and-day difference.” Through repetition, 1st Platoon refined its building-clearing tactics with the goal of a swift, but safe live-fire. Every squad rehearsed Battle Drill 6 multiple times while the squad and team leaders stressed muzzle awareness and target discrimination as priorities throughout each phase of the training. A variety of urban operations tactics were performed, which included moving between buildings, covering other team/squad’s movement, entering buildings, clearing rooms and support by fire (as used in squad and platoon attacks).

Specialist David Clair, one of the platoon’s M-249 gunners, initially assisted with support by fire and had good oversight from his position on the berm.

“Once we ran all the rehearsals, and everyone knew what job they were supposed to do, the exercise went really smoothly,” Clair said.

On the day prior to the live fire, the platoon practiced attacking the three-building compound on Range 5 UO using simulated rounds and blue-paint bolts for their M-4 and M-249 weapon systems. Their mission was to distinguish between civilians and combatants, engaging each target armed with a weapon. To replicate the kill zone, a small green balloon that was stapled to each enemy target. 1st Platoon employed the “crawl-walk-run” strategy, and started out doing a very slow walk-through of the area, talking about where to emplace each maneuvering element. Once they had a firm understanding of the concept of the exercise, the platoon executed the attack and engaged each target with simulated rounds, clearing every building in the compound.

They rehearsed the attack three times before finishing the training for the day with the intent to emulate the same plan the following day firing live rounds.

For the final live-fire assault, the platoon began by walking along a street adjacent to the compound until a simulated grenade was detonated to initiate the exercise. After taking cover along berms that bordered the compound, the squads fired upon the targets in the building windows, and eliminated all the combatants in full view. From these positions behind the two different berms, the assault teams advanced toward the compound while the support by fire teams covered their movement. As the assault teams reached the nearest one-story building, they moved through the building and cleared each room, eliminating every enemy target within. To ensure maximum safety, enemy targets were only set up on the walls facing one direction, as that is the only path on which the rounds were fired. When clearing a building, Soldiers remained along the designated “red walls” to ensure they would not be hit by any wayward rounds traveling through the thin walls.

Once the first building was cleared, the platoon leader communicated to the next team to assault and clear the second one-story building. The same process followed and each enemy target was engaged and destroyed. After that building was clear, teams moved up to secure the final destination — a three-story shoot house. Inside the structure, multiple targets were set up in hallways and within each of the rooms. Teams moved through each room and up each stairway, firing two-to-three rounds at all the enemy targets until the building was cleared.

Following the conclusion of the live-fire exercise, 1st Platoon conducted a thorough after-action review of their shoot-house live-fire exercise, along with the assistance of MPRI instructors. Over the course of four days, the platoon gained tactical skills that it can share at joint training with allies during Operation Inferno Creek.

“I am very confident in all the Soldiers,” Sgt. 1st Class Alexander Mariano, the 1st platoon sergeant, commented. “The whole platoon’s effort over the last few weeks will surely pay off in Oman.”

The 125th FSC deploys to the Sultanate of Oman soon to participate in Operation Inferno Creek, a bilateral training exercise with the Royal Omani Army aiming to build capacity and creates a greater U.S. Central Command Theater Security Cooperation from this week.