Photo by of Lt. Col. Robert Church
I Corps Artillery Soldiers take a
break during a
hot day of weapons training at Camp
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. — As
America celebrated her birthday July 4, 2006, with parties
and fireworks, so did I Corps Artillery Forward (ICA FWD).
Teams had a couple of
well-received days off. Several of the guys flew their wives
out and were able to spend some quality time with them, and
the unit held a barbecue that afternoon.
Maj. Robert Hales’
brother, Brent, lives in nearby Hattiesburg and is a
professor at the University of Southern Mississippi. He
brought venison brats, his catfish fryer and pounds of
catfish, and a dozen or more watermelon.
Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) provided burgers, hot
dogs, beans, potato salad, drinks and chips. There was more
food than they knew what to do with. The supply/logistics
section, under Lt. Col. Brian Lamb, made all the
arrangements with MWR, getting the food, as well as a
volleyball net and softball equipment.
It was a great even though
it rained with a spectacular thunderstorm towards the end.
It was a great way to celebrate our nation’s birthday.
ICA FWD teams have been
training hard in theater-immersion training over the last
month. Recently Soldiers spent a couple of days learning to
conduct urban operations. Camp Shelby has its own training
location like Tickville Gulch at Camp Williams. There are
actually several different three Forward Operating Bases (FOBs)
where urban operations are taught and executed. Groups spent
the day at Al Jafah learning about evacuating buildings,
patrolling the streets and reacting to sniper fire.
Civilians are hired to
portray COBs (civilians on the battlefield). They interact
with the soldiers playing parts of local officials,
religious leaders, vendors and beggars.
Photo courtesy of Lt. Col. Robert
Lt. Col. Robert Church drives on the
After a full day of
training, the group spent the next day in class, preparing
briefings in order to teach the ANA (Afghan National Army)
what they just learned. The group was taught important key
components that needed to be covered in the training. Each
team developed a training plan and then implemented it the
Day Four was once again at
Al Jafah. This time, ICA FWD teams were the
observers/controllers conducting the training. A group of
Soldiers were portraying the part of the ANA. We had actual
interpreters there to do the interpreting. These were also
civilians; only they’re citizens from Iraq, Egypt, Saudi
Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries.
The trainer would present
the operations order, and the interpreter would then
interpret into Arabic as if the role-playing Soldiers could
not speak English. There was only a certain amount of time
in which to complete the training. The ANA Soldiers are
then sent into Al Jafah to see if they can accomplish the
training mission that they had prepared under the advice of
our training teams. They did a great job. After a
successful mission, The ETT conducted an after-action review
and went through that process, again, through the
One of the most exciting
days of training to this point was driving humvees over the
rough-terrain course. It had been raining the day Team 1,
Squad 2 was on the course and it was muddy. In addition to
giant mud holes, there were huge bumps in the road, hills to
climb and obstacles to avoid. The trainers set a speed
limit, but that speed may have been exceeded on occasion.
The unanimous comment was what a great exercise it was,
especially by being able to fully exercise the capabilities
of the humvee.
That night, we drove the
night vision course. We had been trained earlier that day
on the use and operation of night vision goggles (NVG).
That night, teams got to go out and put them to use. It was
a good experience, getting used to adjusting and wearing
them and then actually using them in a wooded environment.
The teams drove the course just as it was getting dark, then
regrouped at the beginning of the course and waited for it
to get dark, and after it was completely dark again drove
the course several times so that everyone could have the
experience of driving with NVGs.
Training continues at a
steady pace, well on track for departure to be “in country”
at the time planned.