CAMP ATTERBURY JOINT MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ind. — they wear different uniforms, a hodgepodge of patterns. Some are in Army Combat Uniforms -- the gray-green digital pattern that is the current wear of the Army, others wore the older Battle Dress Uniform that was fazed out of service. They addressed each other by first name as opposed to rank and last name. While to some this informality would indicate a lack of discipline, to the Soldiers of the Company B, 2nd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group, it is just how business is done.
The Ohio Army National Guard unit trained recently at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind., for a quarterly exercise.
Whereas a typical National Guard unit will have a two-day drill weekend, this unit sometimes consolidates their drill days into a number of weeklong drills, said the acting commander. “This allows us to get out here and do more in one drill period than we would using the conventional drill schedule,” he said.
“This also works out for our team members that live a significant distance away.”
During their training at Camp Atterbury, the Special Forces Soldiers performed airborne parachute jumps from 12,500 feet and 5,000 feet. They also qualified with their individual weapons systems and conducted reflexive fire ranges.
One of the tasks scheduled during their training was conducting foot patrols in the wilderness.
“We want to get back to the woods,” the acting commander said. “There has been a lot of focus on urban operations, but that is one facet of what we do. So we’re out here doing basic combat foot patrol. We travel by the hardest route possible simply because no one would expect anyone to be there and that gives us the element of surprise.”
The patrol started like any other mission: with pre-combat checks and inspections, ensuring all team members had all their mission essential gear. During the course of the patrol, the squad-sized unit would refine their movement techniques and communication through hand signals.
“What we are also doing is collecting as much ‘Intel’ about our surroundings,” said the acting commander. “When we stop, we’re looking, listening and smelling, using all our senses to check an area.”
While the concept of walking a foot patrol may seem mundane for these highly-trained Soldiers, without the basics, you can’t do the high-speed things, said the team’s training noncommissioned officer.
“You can’t do advanced operations until you master the basics,” he said. “As an Operational Detachment Alpha, it’s important for us to ensure every one of the team has the foundation of the basics. We do a lot of sustainment training. We still have to maintain proficiency in skill level three, four and five since we’re all noncommissioned officers. We hit the ground running when we got here with three military free fall operations, two drops at 12,500 feet and one at 5,000 feet. There are so many facets and aspects to our training and the credentials we have to maintain; airborne proficiency is just one of them.”
The Soldiers said Camp Atterbury is a good location for their training.
“We come here about four to five times a year,” said the training noncommissioned officer. “We’re a relatively local unit. The amenities here at Camp Atterbury give us a lot of opportunities to train, whether its areas for patrolling to ranges or the airfield. The staff here is very helpful and makes our training easier to accomplish.”