April 22, 2010

Engineers work with MI Co. in combined exercise

By Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

FORT A.P. HILL, Va. — Virginia Guard Engineers from the Fredericksburg-based Company A, 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion joined forces with Military Intelligence Soldiers from the Fort Belvoir-based Company B, 116th BSTB in a 24 hour exercise at Fort A.P. Hill’s Combined Arms Collective Training Facility April 10.


Soldiers from Company A, 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team escort Military Intelligence Soldiers from Company B during a 24-hour exercise at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. The exercise provided an opportunity for the Engineers of Company A to focus on military operations in urban terrain while providing the intelligence Soldiers a chance to improve their intelligence gathering techniques in a realistic setting. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Please visit the Virginia Guard Flickr page for more photos from this training event.

The exercise gave the Soldiers from both companies the chance to improve their specific job skills for their individual military occupational specialties, or MOS. The engineers were able to focus on their secondary infantry roles by clearing rooms and patrolling village streets, while the MI Soldiers were able to build their intelligence gathering abilities, by embedding with the engineers in the scenario.

“They're conducting full spectrum operations, a cordon and search operations, and we are providing intelligence support to that mission. We are basically trying to accomplish some collective training in our individual MOS's. In this specific case we are going to utilize our human intelligence collectors. We plan to actually have situations where intelligence is obtained from an objective, a detainee is detained, moved  to a holding area and we will actually run through our some interrogations with them. Our Soldiers evaluated on that to meet their MOS requirements and maintain their proficiency,” said Capt. Sean Hoover, commander of Company B.

“We also have other personnel within our company that will be providing support to the mission by being civilians on the battlefield, locally employed persons. As closely attempting to mimic what Soldiers may see downrange –we try to incorporate some cultural awareness training for the Soldiers,” added Hoover

The original plan for the engineer company only included the Company A Soldiers, but their commander saw this as an opportunity to incorporate other companies in the battalion and give the Soldiers of both companies a feel for working with Soldiers of other occupational areas and give everyone involved more realistic training.

“The original scenario was to do a MOUT exercise, military operations in urban terrain for the Alpha Company engineers. In discussions with other companies within the battalion, it evolved into a combined arms exercise involving the Alpha Company engineers as a dismounted, patrolling force as well as Bravo Company, MI personnel as embedded HUMINT collection teams,” said Capt. Josh Wells, commander of Company A.

“The scenario was a friendly village with criminal and terrorist activity in the Iraq theater,” said Wells.

The Soldiers entered the mock village and interacted with the local population as they would overseas. The engineers provided security and room clearing abilities combined with breaching using small explosives while the HUMINT teams collected and analyzed intelligence from the locals. The civilians in the exercise were played by Soldiers from the MI Company and were fully integrated in o the scenario.

“A lot of my Soldiers put together a pretty detailed scenario. Most of the civilians you will come across will have identification cards that we've created; they all have scripts, routines to follow. The entire scenario, including the area, targets, and associated enemy material has been developed based off of the work the Soldiers put together,” said Hoover.

The Soldiers worked together as a team by attacking objectives, gathering intelligence and analyzing it to discover where the teams would move next. They would then move to the next objective, attack, gather, analyze and repeat, according to Wells.

“It allowed my Alpha Company engineers to actually patrol with another element,” said Wells. “We don’t do a lot of combined arms training. This allowed us to have elements from another company that have a specific mission embedded within our patrol. My guys have to work with them, secure them and utilize them to gain that actionable intelligence.”

“We’ve certainly learned a lot,” he said. “I think we’ve learned a lot of good lessons. We’re going to use it as a foundation to do future combined arms training, not only within the battalion, but hopefully within the brigade.”

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