June 20th, 2010

Wolfpack Prepares For Deployment To Afghanistan

Soldiers of Bravo Company, 1-168 Infantry Regiment, based out of Shenandoah, Iowa, have been hard at work at Camp Ripley, MN preparing for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan this fall.

Over the past week, their two major training objectives involved training the soldiers of the Wolfpack on proper movement techniques while under direct fire from an enemy element. This critical combat skill prepares soldiers for one of the worst possible scenarios: facing withering fire from an enemy element at close range.

But Captain Brandon Gray, of West Des Moines, Commander of the Wolfpack, is confident in his soldiers’ ability to tackle this challenge, saying, “This is a basic building block for our more complex training scenarios and gives our men confidence in their fellow soldiers and individual weapons systems.”

On Wednesday, soldiers participated in a two-man buddy team exercise which required them to shoot, move and communicate as a team as they took out six enemy targets on their lane. Asked how he felt about the training, Staff Sergeant Patrick Kilcoin, of Adair, had this to say:

“This is good, realistic training for my troops. Now they understand what it’s like to move as a buddy team in direct contact with the enemy. I am confident they are better prepared for combat and more complex training scenarios after this event.”

Indeed, a more complex training scenario presented itself the following day, as Wolfpack soldiers progressed from a two-man scenario during the day, to an eight-man scenario during both day and night, led by sergeants like Kilcoin.

With live rounds in their weapons, the men moved out on a patrol similar to their future mission in Afghanistan, and encountered another enemy element directly to their front. Like clockwork, the four men in the front of Kilcoin’s patrol dropped to the ground and immediately began engaging targets, allowing unit leaders to quickly formulate a plan to maneuver on the enemy.

Kilcoin directed the four men in the rear to quickly move to their left, parallel with the four already in the front, and ordered them to begin engaging targets as well, allowing him time to call up on his radio for simulated emergency close air support (ECAS) from a nearby fighter jet or helicopter gunship.

The simulated gunship quickly swooped in and forced the enemy to withdraw, preserving Kilcoin’s squad to fight another day.

Another day, which for soldiers of the Wolfpack Company, will come very soon. The men are expected to be conducting combat operations in Afghanistan by November.

(This article was submitted to national print media. Kilcoin is one of the author’s three squad leaders. The author is a platoon leader for Bravo Company.)

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About the Author

Our Army Life
My name is Gabe Haugland, and I’m an Iowa National Guard Infantry officer. I’m also an attorney, father, husband, brother and son. The Iowa National Guard has been notified that we will deploy to Afghanistan this year. This will be our first deployment as a family, and I intend to use this blog to keep our family and friends informed as we train-up for the deployment and finally make our way “in country”. We hope to capture the joys and challenges of “Our Army Life” and do our part to bring attention to the sacrifice that Army families make.

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