‘Guardians’ partner with CAB, Air Force for joint operation
An OH-58 Kiowa helicopter flies over the 101st BSB’s convoy live-fire exercise July 31 at Range 18, Fort Riley. The live fire was a joint exercise between the 101st BSB, CAB and 10th ASOS. Photo by: Staff Sgt. Donald Martin, 1ST HBCT.
Story by: Staff Sgt. Donald Martin
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After five months of preparation and planning, the 101st Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, completed its joint exercise convoy live-fire training.
The training was conducted July 30 and 31 at Range 18, Fort Riley. The "Guardian" Battalion conducted the exercise with support from the 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Inf. Div., and the Air Force's 10th Air Support Operations Squadron, located at Fort Riley.
The planning started in April when officials in the Guardian Battalion learned they were going to conduct convoy gunnery. A list of tasks had to be accomplished before getting to the live fire, but Capt. Erik Anthes, officer in charge of the range, said the coordination that took place to make the event possible was worth it.
"I wanted to make it as realistic and as in-depth as possible," Anthes said. "We had just returned from deployment, and we knew that we were going to be receiving a lot of new personnel that did not have significant deployment experience."
Anthes of New Port Richey, Fla., said because of the uncertainty of deployment schedules, the Soldiers needed to be ready for anything, and that was why this training was so important.
Many had roles in preparing the unit for the exercise, but Sgt. Derrick Lampkin, small arms master gunner, 101st BSB, made sure the Soldiers were prepared with their weapons.
"We taught them what to do in case the weapon goes down, what each function of each weapon does, what to do for immediate and remedial action, what ammo they use and how to properly fire these weapons," Lampkin said.
Lampkin led the Soldiers through a "Gunner's Academy" that taught them everything they needed to know about the weapons they may use in combat.
He said this phase of the preparation was especially important because, without that portion of the training, the Soldiers may not have been as successful as they were in the exercise.
"Some of them had never even seen these weapons before, and so we showed them how to use them," Lampkin said. "The Soldiers are now confident in their skills, and I'd gladly ride in a (mine resistant ambush protected vehicle) with one of them as my gunner."
The exercise began with training led by 10th ASOS officials and the 1st Sqdn., 6th Cav. Regt. They covered how to call for air support, the types of aircraft that could offer support, ordnance and medical evacuation requests. They also performed dry runs of loading an injured patient into a helicopter.
The units then practiced reacting to contact, engaging a hostile enemy and vehicles, and responding to an improvised explosive device with injuries. Additionally, they practiced hasty vehicle recoveries, calling for close air support and evacuating a casualty by vehicle.
Then, they did it all over again with real bullets. OH-58 Kiowa helicopters flew overhead, suppressed enemy targets and provided close-air support, while the 101st BSB Soldiers performed the live-fire exercise.
Anthes said the joint operation was a huge success, and the realism of training with the Air Force element and the helicopters gave the Soldiers better training than he had received.
"As a young lieutenant, I was deployed to Iraq, and I didn't have the ability to do such training, and I didn't understand how to speak to the pilots or how to employ the fires from the pilots," Anthes said. "This is something that I knew we needed to be trained on be added to our list of skills."
The training paid off for two medical Soldiers. Pfc. Briggett Cardoza, 21, and Pfc. Nicholas Leiphart, 20, both with Company C, 101st BSB, said this was an awesome experience.
"I thought that the training was very realistic … and fun," Cardoza, a native of Heyward, Calif., said. "I think this is something we as medics need to do more."
Leiphart of Gettysburg, Pa., said the training with the helicopters helped prepare him for deployment.
"Knowing what hand signals mean what and going over everything with the flight medic gives me a lot of experience for whenever I deploy overseas," Leiphart said. "I'll know exactly what to look for and exactly how to do it without hesitation."