8 days of infantry training

December 17th, 2004  
Duty Honor Country

Topic: 8 days of infantry training

by Sergeant Casey Doody
1-327 INF REG, 101st Airbone Division


I took the time to take notes during my first field problem with my unit to allow some of you aspiring infantry and Army people to understand what goes on in a FTX (field training exercise). Before I begin, you must know that this is not my first FTX with the infantry. I was here at Ft. Campbell from 97-01. From my past experience, I can tell you that this FTX was on the disorganized side of things. Lastly, I wanted to name this piece 8 days of an INF BDE FTX (infantry brigade field training exercise), but some of you non military types would not know the full meaning of that.


My job is a FO (forward observer). I am responsible for indirect fire for an infantry platoon. Each INF PLT gets a FO and RTO (radio telephone operator). Since there are 3 rifle platoons in a company, there are 3 FO/RTO teams. At the company level, there is a FSO (fire support officer) and FSNCO (fire support non commissioned officer). They are responsible for planning fires and coordinating fires with Battalion and Brigade.

In this field problem, I would find myself in a unique situation. Since I am an E-5, I should have caused a change in the FO teams, because an E-5 should be an FO. But since this is the last field problem for1st platoon’s FO, my FSNCO decided to keep the teams the same and put me with another e-5 in 2nd platoon. This would complicate things in the field. This is my story.

Day Zero

This is the day before the field problem. It starts as I am getting my name tape put on my ruck around 0800. Not having a name tape on a ruck may result in my ruck being misplaced with another platoon. Work call is at 0900 so I have some time to get some last minute things done. It has been raining all morning, which causes a few problems. Instead of putting our gear outside to do PCCs (pre combat checks) and PCIs (pre combat inspections), we must keep our gear in the building. Our company area was not designed to hold gear for 100 soldiers. This made things quite cramped throughout the day and cause more than a few headaches. Since I am a sergeant, I am entrusted to bring the right gear to the field since I have been in the Army a few years. As leaders, we must check the lower enlisted to make sure they have everything. After lunch, we draw weapons and NODs (night optical devices) and make sure they are in good order. Our initial plan called for an air assault at 0400 the next morning, so we loaded our rucks into the trucks. The air assault would be canceled and our rucks would come back to us after sitting in the rain for a few hours. From experience, I put most of my gear in freezer bags so my stuff remained dry. A few other soldiers we less fortunate. At 1800 we were given 2 hours of free time. I decided to bring my warmer sleeping bag since the weather reports were revised to be pretty cold. At 2200, we loaded on to buses and moved to a staging area. The rain had stopped, the wind had picked up, and the cold set in. I watched with amusement as soldier tried to act hard by not putting on anything warm. A few hours later, they would break down and put on warmer gear. At this point we were allowed to get some sleep but were not allowed to break out our sleeping bags. We broke out our wobbies (poncho liner) and tried to get some sleep. Some soldiers practiced spooning; the art of lying next to a fellow man to keep warm. Some of you non military types may laugh at this, but if you are cold enough, you will do it too.

Day 1

We were woken around 0100 to do some convoy training on how to react to contact and what to do in the event of a vehicle rollover. At 0200, we moved down to the trucks got on them. For the next 2 hours we would freeze our butts off because we could barely move around the trucks. Our training has become much more Iraq orientated. Now all troops must have their weapons facing out to react to an ambush. At 0400 we rolled out on a 3 hour drive around the field. I still do not understand the training value of all that driving since no ambushes were created. We unloaded the trucks near the Casity Mount Site. A mount cite is basically a training area where several buildings have been built for urban training. 1st and 2nd platoons were to cordon off the town while 3rd platoon occupied the town. Since we expected no contact, we were allowed to get some rest. That describes our morning and afternoon. In the evening we moved within sight of casity and would remain there until 0200. Our platoon Sergeant made the decision to start a fire, since the temps would drop into the high 20’s. I did not have to pull guard duty since there were so many people around the fire. I took part in a patrol of the city to make sure things were quite. After the patrol, I got some sleep.

Day 2

At 0200, we occupied the town. Intel said after morning prayer, things would get heavy. Morning prayer came the towns people came out. They were peaceful until one of the civilians was arrested. The people started to riot at the police station. Some of the soldiers were getting pushing with the people. I was on the roof of the government building acting as an observer. My radio had been acting up and could only transmit about 200 meters. I would later discover that a microchip had broken inside my antenna. One of the town’s people stole an assault pack from a soldier. An assault pack is a small bag that holds enough equipment for a day or 2. The soldiers saw thing and tried to get it back. When the civilian started to take things out of the pack, things got messy. One or 2 soldiers on the ground fired warning shots. A soldier on the roof fired an aimed shot into the crowed. The crowd was in full retreat when the 240 (the new M-60 machine gun) opened up on the crowd. A little bit later, a soldier fired 2 shots into the chest of a civilian in response to a thrown rock. The soldiers on the ground found nothing wrong with their actions while the BN (battalion) and BDE (brigade) commanders were pissed. At 1000, 2nd platoon moved out into the woods and set up camp. Once again, we had a fire. I went on a patrol to photograph some damage done to a civilian’s property so the guy could be compensated for the damage. The BDE commander was at our company CP (command post) and our patrol got sucked into guard duty. A little while later there was another riot. A different patrol had entered the mosque, something we were instructed not to do. The crowd did a good job of rioting, pissing off more than a few people. A lot of the infantry soldiers do not have riot control training and it showed. The XO (executive officer) cut some dude’s face with his weapon. Most soldiers did not stay in a tight formation, which is critical in maintaining some kind of formation. After the riot calmed down, my patrol headed back to camp. The BDE Commander summoned the patrol who entered the mosque and the leaders to chew some butt. I guess the BDE Commander was considering UCMJ action against the 240 gunner and the squad. Our company commander made sure that did not happen. As night fell, the company moved to the Battalion area. We were able to get hot chow. The Army has made a whole lot of progress in field chow since I got out in 2001. Most of the food was damn good. We were able to get some sleep before our air assault mission the next morning.

Day 3

Wake up was at 0330 and we were on the LZ (landing zone) at 0430. The UH-60s would land at 0530. It is standard practice to sit on a LZ for hours while waiting for the birds. Once again, temps were in the 20’s and made us cold. The sky was really clear and I could make out a few shooting stars. Once the birds landed, we were happy. There is a heater on a Blackhawk. Our mission was to capture a leader of an extremist group. We were supposed to land about 600 meters from the objective, but the pilot put us down right next to the small village. I guess the leader took shots at the choppers and then fled into the field. The 2 apaches were hunting him for a little while. I was at the support by fire position and sat around for a few hours. A patrol killed the leader after he shot at them and we had a quick AAR (after action review) where 2 SF soldiers let us know how we did. After the AAR, we went into PZ posture and were picked up by the birds. The ride back was pretty cool since we could see the landscape. Once we were back at the BN area, we were allowed to get some sleep. At dusk, we trucked up and moved to range 52. Once we got into our platoon areas, we had a fire going. Since it is 1 DEC, we had to change the fill in our radios. Once again we had a fire to keep us warm. I decided to hit the sack early since I had guard at 0100-0200.

Day 3

The guy who had guard duty with me amused me greatly. He was from the city and did not know how to keep a fire going without gasoline. I really do not like the guard duty that is in the middle of my rest time. Living off “cat naps” for a few days can really have an effect on a person. Wake up was at 0400 and we prepared to do a blank fire on range 52. During this range, we’d be shooting at guys with MILES gear. Since 2nd platoon screwed up at Casity, we would be support platoon for this lane. I had to give my GPS to 3rd platoon’s FO since 3rd was the main effort. That meant I would be navigating by map and compass for the rest of the day. On this range, the terrain made navigation easy for me. The BN commander would be an observer, walking along the CO (company commander). The platoon leader for 2nd was yelled at for “strolling” while shots were being fired. After we had completed the lane, the BN Commander had us recock (repeat) the lane after the first contact. This time 2nd platoon would push through 3rd platoon because 3rd had casualties. After assaulting the bunkers, the lane was over. We road marched about 3 km’s to range 54 to do a day time blank fire, live fire and live fire at night. As we got live rounds, my SGT RTO said not to get live ammo since we should be shooting. I got the ammo anyway. One of the Staff Sergeants in my platoon told him to get some ammo. My RTO argued with the man, and got his butt chewed by the LT. He finally got some ammo. The terrain for this range did not make it easy to navigate by map and compass. I spent some time on a wooded ridge line wondering where the hell I was. A small hill top got me back on track. While we were conducting the range, we had OH-58 Kiowa helicopters supporting. us. They gave intelligence to us, called for fire on targets (this time we had real artillery rounds landing in the impact area), and shooting targets in the impact area. When we started the range, 2nd platoon was in front. After 2nd platoon destroyed an OP, the rest of the company pushed though and finished off the enemy. The other FO’s got a chance to call in some live artillery. By the time 2nd got insight of the impact area, the exercise was over. We repeated range once more before it got dark. Then we did a night live fire. My RTO had screwed up again by not bringing out the helmet mount to his NVG’s. Range control said that everyone must have NVG’s mounted to do the range. This brought a lot of thunder down on me and him. I was not too happy about him making me look bad. Again, the artillery stopped shooting by the time 2nd platoon got to the impact area. No live ARTY rounds for me. After the AAR, we were fed some hamburgers which tasted damn good. We finally got some sleep at 0300.

Day 4

We woke up at 0730 and got a breakfast of eggs, ham, biscuits and cereal. After chow, we had to go clean the range of spent brass. During the cleanup, I found a mad light, which I happily acquired. We moved into the woods and relaxed until we received our new mission of guard duty. Our company was to guard a support area. I was almost selected to OC (observe and control) the fires for Bravo Company, was about to do range 54. Since there were so many OC’s, I did not have to do it. Our transportation came unannounced, which made everyone rush to get ready. It is a good idea to keep your crap packed at all times incase of situations like that one. We rolled out and arrived at the support area. We sat in our trucks for quite a while. My truck got into a biscuit fight with truck ahead of us. The CO was laughing so all was good. When it started to rain, we finally got moved into the support area. We were given a tent that was acquired from Iraq. The night would prove it was not designed for the rain. As before, the field food was damn good. When we went to bed, the tent was packed like sardines. The rain pooled on top of the tent, causing major leaks. Also, the water was seeping in through the sides. The CO was pretty mad that his stuff got wet.

Day 5

Most of the guys in the tent got wet from the rain. I decided I had enough and made a hootch, a shelter using a poncho and as many bungee cords as needed. We actually did not assume guard duty until 1400. I made use of this down time by chilling by myself. I do not particularly care to talk with many of the grunts. For the most part, being with the grunts is like being with a bunch of stereotypical college guys. All they talk about is women, sex and drinking. Most of them are not that educated either. A rumor was started saying that I was CID because I was well educated and “was not like them.” My platoon sergeant said that 2nd platoon is the biggest bunch of bastards he’s ever seen. I think D-Top can speak for me here. Anyways, I had to sit on a LPOP from 2000-0200 because the LT wanted an FO out there. At the LPOP, I could not see more than 50 meters in front of me. I really could not call for fire on anything at that location. The LPOP was called in at 0200 because of the pouring rain. I was thinking my hootch would be soaked from the heavy rain. The morning would prove I faired better than those in the tent.

Day 6

Everything was muddy the next morning. Rain always blesses soldiers with mud. I was still tired from sleeping in wet cloths, so I slept the day away. At night we had a raid to conduct. The first 1500 meters was on muddy roads. Luckily, I did not slip into the mud. I heard a few soldiers slipping into the muck. As we neared the objective, the mud cleared. Once again, 2nd platoon was the support platoon and we did not see any action. After the objective was cleared, we moved to the trucks. We had been told that there was going to be an ambush and 2nd was ready. We had not seen much fighting and were ready to shoot anything up. Most of us were pissed off when the trucks arrived at the support area without getting ambushed. One of the soldiers stole some soup and cereal from the cooks and we happily ate it. Then we hit the sack.

Day 7

I woke up to a layer of frost, which I shoot off before it melted. After breakfast, I packed up my hootch and waited for the company to move out to pull security at the BDE area. When we moved to the trucks, my SGT RTO got on a truck with HQ platoon and not 2nd platoon. I should have said something, but since he had been at the unit for a while, I trusted his judgment. When we got to the BDE area, I found myself separated from 2nd platoon. I saw a platoon unload about 400 meters away and walked to their location only to find 3rd platoon. We finally got a grid to 2nd platoon and walked to their location. My LT was pissed and our platoon SGT yelled at me and my RTO. I was happy to hear that the leadership seemed to notice my SGT RTO was the one screwing up. Later I was told by the platoon SGT that I knew my job better than my RTO. I was ready for this field problem to end. Later in the day, I read my book on the Philippine War. The platoon SGT knew a bit about the war. He also asked me if I drank tea. I am guessing he was pointing out I fit a curtain stereotype. 2 soldier were trying to swing across a small steam by swinging on a vine. Me and squad leader watched as we hoped the vine would break. The vine did break, sending the soldier into the water. Everyone had a good laugh. At night it rained, but we were in a tent and did not care. I had guard from 2400-0100.

Day 8

We woke up ar 0500 and broke down the tent. My radio said the rain should taper off. Initially, we were supposed to be picked up by the helicopters sometime in the morning. Our platoon moved to the LZ and waited. The rest of the company did not show up. We finally got ahold of the CO and he said the LZ was over at his position, where I was first dropped off yesterday. By this time the weather had turned from a drizzle, to steady rain, to a down pour. I had put my rain jacket on earlier and a few other guys made fun of me. As the down pour continued, others finally started to dawn the rain jacket. Since this was my first field problem, I was due for initiation. I knew it was coming and held on to a metal chain for dear life. With 20 of them and one of me, I did not last long. From there I was tackled into the mud. So much for the rain jacket. We were trucked in a bit later, cleaned our weapons, sensitive items, and went home for the day.

if any of you need anything explained in greater detail, just ask. It may be a little while before I can reply. I just moved into a new place and I still do not have internet access at the house

Happy Holidays

SGT Doody
December 17th, 2004  
Sounds fun, nice to have you back, SGT.
December 17th, 2004  
I don't have time to read all of it right now, but it sounds like you had some fun there..

Welcome back..
December 18th, 2004  
"They gave intelligence to us, called for fire on targets (this time we had real artillery rounds landing in the impact area), and shooting targets in the impact area. When we started the range, 2nd platoon was in front. After 2nd platoon destroyed an OP, the rest of the company pushed though and finished off the enemy. The other FO’s got a chance to call in some live artillery. By the time 2nd got insight of the impact area, the exercise was over."

Platoon and company level live fire attack exercises supported by indirect fire and maybe by engineer units with explosives and bangalores are one of the best things in military training 8)

"The crowd was in full retreat when the 240 (the new M-60 machine gun) opened up on the crowd. A little bit later, a soldier fired 2 shots into the chest of a civilian in response to a thrown rock. The soldiers on the ground found nothing wrong with their actions while the BN (battalion) and BDE (brigade) commanders were pissed."

Not surprised. Shooting at civilians cause only local population to piss off. Thrown rocks are only rocks.
June 26th, 2008  
well... thatss... not interesting at all but tell you one thing, our fister platoon is most ate up platoon ive ever seen
June 27th, 2008  
good read doody. When you say the other troops think you were CID what does that mean?
June 27th, 2008  
You had a fire? In an infantry platoon position. At night? WTF?

Who came up with that genius idea?
June 27th, 2008  
A Can of Man
Called drawing fire.
June 27th, 2008  
Originally Posted by therise21
good read doody. When you say the other troops think you were CID what does that mean?
They thought he was a undercover Agent/Cop of the Army.

The United States Army Criminal Investigation Command (USACIDC) is a federal law enforcement agency that investigates serious crimes and violations of civilian and military law within the United States Army.
The acronym "USACIDC" is used to refer to the Army command itself, while criminal investigation personnel and operations are commonly referred to using the shortened acronym "CID", which has its history in the original Criminal Investigation Division formed during World War I and is still retained today for continuity purposes.

I´d like to thank the Academy, John Travolta in "The General's Daughter", Google and Wikipedia.......

June 28th, 2008  
Originally Posted by the_13th_redneck
Called drawing fire.
I know that the Americans do things very differently to us here in Australia, but I just can't get my head around the concept of doing your guard duty (piquet) at a fire, let alone even having any light of any sort after sundown. It just blows me away.