CJTF-HOA unit hones counter-terrorism skills

18 May 2003 | Cpl. Andrew W. Miller

Soldiers from Charlie Company, 4th Battalion, 31st Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, here in support of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, conducted a night raid exercise in a local training area just outside the camp May 14.

The purpose of the training was to hone counter-terrorism skills necessary in the war against terrorism.

"This was a full force company rehearsal including all four of our platoons," said Capt. Scott F. Austin, commander of Charlie Co.  "We conduct these exercises, especially at company level, to prepare our soldiers for upcoming missions."

The raid, which was the third in a series of training evolutions for the soldiers, simulated a real situation involving insertion and extraction, troop movements and enemy engagements, all held in darkness.

"Sometimes making the situations as real as possible is the hardest part," explained Austin, native of Toledo, Ohio.  "If it doesn't appear real, the soldiers don't get anything out of the training."

The soldiers were first inserted by high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWV), simulating a helicopter insertion. Then, using night vision goggles (NVG), they cleared a bunker and engaged enemy troops with blank ammunition while destroying a vehicle where a simulated "high value target," or suspect, posing a threat in the area, was apprehended. After successfully completing the task at hand, the troops were extracted via "helo."

Djibouti's desert environment is new to these soldiers who have been assigned in a variety of places in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, including Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda.

"Our soldiers performed extremely well out here for such short notice," Austin said.  "Back home we have swamps, and recently we just came from the mountains in Afghanistan so this is a new environment for us, being desert terrain."

This exercise is one of many that 10th Mountain has planned in support of CJTF-HOA.

"We intend to continue these training evolutions throughout our stay, but each one will have different scenario, mixing up our types of exercises," explained Austin. 

Headquarters Marine Corps