Scouts Train on Core Competencies
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
by: SGT Mark Miranda, 4th Brigade 1st Armored Division

Section: 4-1 AD

Fort Bliss Commander Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard joins Col. Scott McKean at Range D for an opportunity to observe a 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regt. live fire training exercise for the upcoming platoon certification exercise Feb. 3.

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Merenkov gives the safety thumbs-up for the next team to begin their run through the clearing course after ensuring the group understands all safety precautions Feb. 3.

After initial runs with blank ammunition, individual teams go through the clearing course with live rounds.

Range safeties check to ensure weapons are clear of rounds before Soldiers are allowed to leave the clearing course

Fort Bliss is not known for its capacity to conduct cold weather training, but for cavalry scouts of 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry regiment running through the “shoot house” at range D it was an added opportunity on top of a requirement to train on core competencies.

 “I'm proud of how our Soldiers overcame adversity and looked for opportunities, not obstacles,” said Col. Scott McKean, Commander of 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division of the harsh conditions.

Combining extreme cold temperatures that shut down Fort Bliss for two days with the added risk involved with live ammunition exercises made the supervision aspect of troop leading procedures vital.

 “We remind our Soldiers that there are catastrophic life changing consequences that can result from one poor decision, one unsafe act,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Merenkov, Commander, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment.

All of the safety precautions for the shoot house training were overseen by range safety noncommissioned officers and observer-controllers.

McKean and Merenkov were joined by Fort Bliss Commanding General Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard to observe the training.

 "Training like this is very helpful," said Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard, commanding general of Fort Bliss. "You've got to train in the kind of conditions that you'll see when deployed.

As more of the world’s population moves into an urban environment, so will the majority of battles will be fought in urban areas including current theaters of operation such as Iraq and Afghanistan.  Soldiers have to train for the possibility of having to enter buildings, positively identify friend or foe, and act accordingly.

 “In shoot house training, Soldiers are provided with weapons such as an M4A1 assault rifle or M9 pistol along with flash-bang grenades on certain occasions,” said observer-controller Staff Sgt. Gary Estrada, a scout with Headquarters Troop.

 “We’re advised friendly targets are inside, and the targets are changed up after each run through the course,” said Pfc. Lucio Martinez, a scout with C Troop from Fabens, Texas.

For scouts, the shoot-house tests their core competencies. Soldiers must proceed through each room and identify and clear any enemy targets, first with blank fire ammunition for a rehearsal run.  The scouts then conduct the course using live ammunition.

The Squadron has a credo to “always take care of your Soldiers, your families and each other" and shoot house training especially emphasizes the need to train, and to train safely.
  “We will continue to train hard as we owe our Soldiers every opportunity and skill that will prepare to keep them alive and come back home safely.  We don't get to choose the conditions where our mission may be, whether 120+ degrees in Baghdad or sub-zero temps in the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan.  We have tough and resilient Soldiers,” said Mckean.
Post a Comment