The past few days have been pretty much a blur! On Monday my unit was scheduled for a Field Training Exercise in the Kahukus Training Area. At first we were scheduled to be in one area, but then we got moved to a secondary site in Kahukus three days before we were scheduled to be there. It took some last minute planning in order to pull off the successful training. To give a little bit of a foreshadow, I realized how important it was to do reconnaissance on the area you will be working in before getting to the area – although it didn’t affect training as much as it sounds. The smoother the training, the more soldiers can get out of it.
Once we got to the training area, we set up our command point (CP) and began assigning areas for the platoons to sleep in. Patrol bases are where platoons can rest for a period of time (usually over one night) in order to prepare for future operations. After we ate, the platoons headed to the patrol base and began their priorities of work (securing the lines, working on cover and concealment, eating, etc.). I didn’t go with a platoon to their patrol base, instead I stayed at the CP. That night, other lieutenants and I walked around to evaluate the patrol base’s reaction to the attack from teams that played as the enemy (OPFOR – Opposing Force). It was fun because the evaluators walked around with radios to the OPFOR, and we had night vision capabilities. I can’t lie, I felt pretty cool walking around with the ability to see at night!
After the few “attacks” that night, we bedded down and prepared for the next day. We woke up to a five minute downpour, nothing like that to get the blood going in the morning for ya. We gave the platoon leaders their operation orders and told them they had to be on the move by noon and at their final objective by four in the afternoon. There were two objectives per lane. I was amazed at how identical the process for the active duty operation orders and mission planning are compared to how ROTC does it. While they were planning their mission, we ran into our snag of having our area of operation changed last minute. *Prior to the change, there was a plan of a verified location of where OPFOR would be; but after the change the only verification leaders can do on such short notice is using map and satellite recon – well these aren’t always the best because things are easily missed.*
When we set out to place the OPFOR, one of the platoon evaluators ran into impassable terrain – practically a cliff. This meant that we had to change some things around for their lane and caused some turbulence in the operation, but as United States Army Officers we adapted and overcame! The platoons ran through their missions and that night we got back into the patrol bases. We did the same thing we did the night before but on an easier scale. We “probed” their lines instead of attacking, so it was more low key. When we woke up, we came back to civilization and finished administrative actions needed to keep the military rolling.
That was pretty much the condensed version of our three day exercise. I hope that this has sufficed your longing to hear about my awesome experience here in Hawaii!
Until next time!