GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — “Get on line,” the team leader shouted through thick white smoke as an explosion rocked the velvety green pine wood forest.
With the echo of gunfire still hanging in the air, Soldiers moved to engage two snipers: one hidden in a tree-house type nest, the other on a small hill above the six-man squad. Splitting into two groups, the squad simultaneously attacked and “neutralized” the two snipers on different sides of the road where the squad was conducting a foot patrol.
Immediately after the skirmish, the squad searched the “killed” or “captured” role-playing snipers as quiet returned to the woods and the smoke of battle dissipated. This scenario is one of many for the Army Reserve Soldiers of the 7th Warrior Training Brigade during their monthly battle assembly.
“This (exercise) is for leaders to learn how to train,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Steve Schwartz, 42, 2nd Battalion, 7th Warrior Training Brigade, 7th Civil Support Command, U.S. Army Reserve.
As a Total Army School System unit, the 7th WTB conducts professional military education for active and reserve component officers through the Command and Staff College Intermediate Level Education course. Also, when directed, the 7th WTB also provides Mobile Training Teams to conduct enlisted professional military education for deployed reserve component Soldiers through the Warrior Leader Course and home station, military occupational specialty training for human resource technicians.
When not teaching, European-based U.S. citizen-Soldiers of the Army Reserve assigned to the 7th WTB attend monthly battle assemblies to retain and refresh their instructional certifications, as well as their tactical military skills. During July’s battle assembly, more than 30 7th WTB Soldiers and their command leadership were tested through Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear simulated training exercise lanes, or STX lanes.
“It’s good, holistic training,” said Army Sgt. Anthony Davis, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 7th WTB, 7th CSC. “(It) gets us out of the office.”
After the first squad moved through the role-playing sniper’s “kill zone” they then had to react to an ambush from the “OPFOR” or opposition force, further up the road.
“It was good. I was surprised they had OPFOR out there. I think that was a good thing,” said Army Spc. Kenneth Van Epps, 7th WTB, 7th CSC.
Van Epps works with military helicopters as a civilian for Raytheon Corporation in Hohenfels, Germany, when he is not training with the 7th WTB.
After clearing the first two STX lanes, the squad continued until their observer/controller dropped a smoke canister in the road to simulate a chemical attack.
As the soda-can sized container spewed thick green plumes of green smoke the squad moved quickly into the brush adjacent to the road and donned their gas masks.
Army Staff Sgt. Derrick Wilson, 7th WTB, 7th CSC, and the lead group’s squad leader, said one of the “improves” for his team would be to work on communication, such as hand and arm signals when they move from point to point. Once they donned their gas masks in the midst of heavy smoke and noise of gunfire, verbal communication was a challenge.
Wilson regrouped his squad again. Next, they moved forward thru the woods, wearing their gas masks, toward their final objective — a small, ordinary concrete building with only one room with only one purpose — a gas chamber with real tear gas.
Once inside, the Soldiers cleared and checked the seal of their respective masks before they executed jumping jacks. The troops then removed their masks for a few moments to experience the effects of the gas, before they exited the building.
Immediately after the effects of the gas subsided the squad came together for the last time to conduct an after action review. The AAR was lead by their Observer/Controller, Army Staff Sgt. Fidelis Oziegbe, 2nd Bn., 7th WTB, 7th CSC.
“I think they did pretty well” Oziegbe, said, “compared to how much time they had to practice.”
(For the full story and more photos, visit the KA online at www.kaiserslauternamerican.com.)