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Realistic Training for Iraq-bound MPs 
Around The Guard 
Spc. Diego Menendez crawls under a wire obstacle 
While under fire on a dismounted patrol, Spc. Diego Menendez, 442 Military Police Company, crawls under a wire obstacle. The course was about two miles long and showed the Soldiers what to expect and how to react to different situations they may encounter should they be deployed to a war zone.
By Staff Sgt. Dennis Gravellem, New York National Guard 

FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- It's early afternoon in an Iraqi village and the 442nd Military Police Company just started their dismounted patrol, when out of no-where they receive indirect fire and the ground rattles beneath them.

The Soldiers run to find cover as their team leaders try to get accountability of each member on their team to make sure no one is hurt.

Fortunately, this is only a training exercise, and the Soldiers are not under attack. They are here at Fort Drum experiencing Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) and learning what to do should they be out on a patrol and are suddenly placed in harm's way.

"Soldiers need to know what is going on, especially when the bullets start flying, they need to know where to be and what to do," said Cpl. Colin Stewart, an observer controller and trainer from 1st Battalion 69th Infantry. "We are here teaching them basic skills, giving them an idea of what they have to do, should something happen while out on patrol."

This challenging two-hour scenario started out with the squads reacting to indirect fire and what they have to do to stay alive and focused. Later, they ran into an obstacle and what needed to be done to maneuver through it while being fired on and having a mortar explode.

"We are learning how to react to certain situations like being shot at." said Spc. Brittany A. Boyd. "We are getting hands-on training and it almost felt real life."

After getting through the obstacle, the next part of the scenario put the squad under attack from two automatic weapons and the Soldier's had to break contact.

Stewart said the main thing he is looking for as an OCT. is communication between the squad leaders and team leaders and the team leaders to the team members.

"Communication is the key, without it we really don't have anything," said Lt. Robert Thorne, the 442nd's executive officer. "Communication is being stressed here, and how important communication is, each team must talk to each other to make sure the correct information is given up and down the chain."

From that scenario they moved into a small urban area where they were hit by sniper fire. The Soldier's had to conduct a 360-degree security watch and tend to a wounded team member, while at the same time call in to higher headquarters to have the wounded Soldier evacuated for medical treatment.

"The MOUT training we received was challenging," said Staff Sgt. Brendan J. Carey. " It gave us a chance to learn how to work together as a team, and find out what each of us is capable of, and to get us ready for mobilization."

Sgt. Terrence J. McGhee said MOUT is very important because the modern day battlefield revolves around urban terrain, and it is necessary for our Soldier's to succeed in the modern day battlefield.

"As a light wheel vehicle mechanic I don't get the opportunity to do this type of training everyday," said Sgt. Sheila P. Robinson, a veteran of the company's 2003-04 deployment to Iraq.

"The training that we are learning today is very important especially when we get to Iraq so we all get home safe, no matter what job we have while deployed," she added.

Lt. Tara Dawe, the 442nd's commander, said that this is just part one of their pre-mobilization training for Iraq, which will be at some time in the future.

At this time in their training each Soldier is at the crawl, walk stage, and before they leave for Iraq they will be at the run stage. After completing all 10 stages of this scenario, each Soldier will have a better understanding of what each other is capable of and how to react should they be fired on.

"I have never experienced a unit that once they found out they were activated for mobilization was so highly motivated to do the right thing for their country," said Dawe. "I have one of the most highly motivated and best comradely units in the National Guard, and I am proud to be their commander and serve with them."

6/30/2009