With those words, one of the team members kicked open the door as he and his fellow Soldiers stormed into the adjoining room inside the enemy stronghold. To their surprise, an Iraqi woman hiding in that room screamed as they burst in, her cries of panic adding to the fog of war already enshrouding the wide-eyed Soldiers. But there was no time for distractions – another closed door stood between them and the unknown …
Such was the scenario that played out time and again during Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) training conducted here as part of annual training by Soldiers of the Army Reserve’s 78th Army Band and Headquarters, Headquarters Company (HHC), 99th Regional Support Command (RSC).
“The training they’re getting here is the training every Soldier needs,” said Maj. Gen. William Monk III, commanding general of the 99th RSC. “As a headquarters and units that don’t get a chance to do this very often, it’s especially important.”
“Right now, we’ve got 50 percent of our headquarters – to include some of the bandsmen – who have not yet deployed,” explained Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Timmer, command sergeant major for the 99th RSC and the primary instructor for the MOUT training.
“What I’m trying to do with not only the headquarters, but also the bands, is to ‘re-green’ the force, to make sure they have at least some of the basics, and to get it back into their heads that, ‘Hey, I am a Soldier regardless of what my MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) is,’ and, ‘Yes, there is still a war going on and I may get pulled to go to a unit to deploy,'” he added.
The training focused on several aspects of MOUT, including entering a building, clearing a room, and engaging targets during urban operations. Soldiers progressed through three stations: the first consisted of a “glass house” made of white engineer tape laid out on the ground in the layout of a small building, where Timmer and his training team demonstrated the proper techniques for a five-man team to enter a building a clear a room; the second featured a multi-room wooden structure that offered Soldiers the opportunity to practice what they’d learned at station one; and, finally, Soldiers got the chance to enter a dark, two-story, “enemy occupied” building where they put themselves and the training they’d just received to the test.
According to those who participated, the training was an unqualified success.
“I think it’s very good, especially if you’re deploying overseas, just to go ahead and prep,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christine Kruise, HHC. “It’s really nice that we get hands-on here before we go forward so we know what to expect.”
“We had different set-ups where we could try different buildings, different rooms, and we had some explosions going off, so we got a more realistic feel for it,” said Spc. John Bridge, HHC Soldier Readiness Processing team.
“It’s a lot like what I did in Basic Training, except that it’s a little bit more advanced,” explained Sgt. Leslie Rickert, 78th Army Band. “I also did this in WLC (Warrior Leader Course). Some of the techniques are a little bit different, but overall it’s the same concept. I learned a lot.”
Timmer and his training team strove to find the right balance between making the training realistic and relevant, while not making it too advanced for Soldiers who have not had much experience with MOUT.
“I think we’ve got the right speed and pace – it’s not too complicated, just the basics,” Timmer explained.
Plans for next year’s annual training include an expanded MOUT training program that will build upon what Soldiers learned during this year’s event.
“As we continue to do combat operations in Afghanistan … there are a number of Soldiers who could be pulled from the unit at any time to be filler with another (deploying) unit,” Timmer noted.