Story and photo by 2nd Lt. Matthew K. Baker
Troop A, 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division
Soldiers from 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, executed mounted and dismounted live-fire training at Fort Carson March 29-April 4 in order to prepare for combat in Afghanistan.
The “Bison Strike” exercise consisted of platoons from Troops A, B and C and the Personal Security Detachment, 1st Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg., 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, securing a foothold in a village known to have Insurgent Syndicate fighters.
“For a lot of the younger Soldiers, platoon live fire is the first chance for them to experience the sights, sounds and operational tempo of urban combat,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Murray, Troop A section sergeant.
The “target house” in the village contained a stockpile of weapons and improvised-explosive-device-making materials. Each platoon was responsible to conduct “tactical sight exploitation” of the target house while maintaining security for a possible attack.
After establishing a foothold, the platoons received small arms contact from the enemy. Pop-up targets were presented as both enemy and friendly.
“One of our biggest concerns in Afghanistan is avoiding civilian casualties,” said 2nd Lt. Jonathon Bass, Troop C platoon leader. “I believe that one of the most important lessons we can learn is how to (distinguish) between enemy and civilians and mass accurate fires at the enemy.”
Next, the platoons defended against a vehicle-borne IED and company-sized attack using antitank rockets, mounted machine guns and organic 60 mm mortars. An additional 81 mm mortar team, acting as fire support for the platoon, allowed forward observers to call for fire on pre-plotted targets.
“For a lot of Soldiers this was their first chance to use AT4 antitank rockets in conjunction with mortars. Massing fires with a multitude of weapon systems really builds a lot of confidence in our ability to fight as a single cohesive unit,” said Staff Sgt. Travis Sisson, Troop A team leader.
“Being able to participate in the troop-leading procedures, understanding the mission and then executing really gave me a lot of confidence in my leaders. Maneuvering with my squad and having assurance in the direct-fire plan gave me a lot of trust in my peers and (noncommissioned officers),” said Pvt. Thomas Zink, Troop A gunner.
After-action reviews were led by troop commanders and Sgt. Maj. Troy Tuten, the operations sergeant major, 1st Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg.
“The dry and blank runs allowed us to make minor adjustments to our scheme of maneuver. The after-action reviews were helpful because we were able to get direct feedback from our troop commander on mission intent,” said Staff Sgt. William Godfrey, senior scout with Troop A. “Sgt. Maj. Tuten improved upon our tactics and maneuvers through tight avenues of approach.”