Monday, October 7, 2013
Wednesday was our day to do Role I. I had been looking forward to this role because this is the one where we are out in the field performing convoys, reacting to contact and setting up perimeters, rally points, etc. Little did I know going into it that I would be having a very stressful/busy day. I was originally assigned to be a medic during our pre-training, however, Tuesday night our platoon leader went back to Fort Sam Houston for a medical emergency and I was picked to be the platoon leader! Unfortunately, I did not really have much of an idea of what I needed to be doing. I was put in contact with the platoon leader from another group who had run the same role that day, to get a heads up on what to expect and what I needed to do. My biggest objectives immediately was that I needed to write an OPORD (Operations Order) which basically just outlines all the information about the operation that we would be running, including react to contact drills, convey traveling spend, break contact speed and catch up speed, convey formation at evacuation points, convey formation at our 2 aid stations and plenty more that I can't even remember at this point. Secondly, I found out that I needed to put together a sand model of our operation. Unfortunately I did not get a picture of this when I was done. It was basically made in a sand box and you laid out the grid lines that we would be operating in, along with the road ways, mountain tops and any other significant terrain features, I also had to mark our check points, ambulance exchange points, rally points and aid station points. I ended up staying up pretty late trying to get all my plans together for Wednesday morning. Well after I got everything set up Wednesday morning I got everyone together to brief them on the operation that we would be running that day. Afterwards we all headed out to our trucks to do our equipment checks, weapons check, load our magazines and do the radio checks. For this training exercise, half of the platoon was made up of guys from my normal platoon (3rd) and the other half was made up of another platoon (4th). This was my biggest worry because I did not know most of the other guys and I didn't know my platoon sergeant at all because he was from the other platoon (though he promised me he knew what was going on and that he would be able to run things like he was suppose to in the field.) Anyways, thankfully we got all of our checks done and left our FOB on time. We had gone about 1100 meters into our route when we were hit by insurgents with automatic weapons and RPG's. (Really it was just cadre dressed up with weapons and smoke grenades that mimicked damage from their weapons.) We quickly lost a vehicle from the RPG and had 4 casualties in the truck that we needed to move, of course at the time of the attack all of our radios seemed to start working. I knew from our training that I needed to get fire superiority quickly then bring up our aid and litter truck from the non-contact side to move our casualties, get our recovery vehicle up to tow our downed truck and then get everyone to our ambulance exchange point for medical evacuation. Unfortunately, for me my platoon sergeant seemed to forget all the battle drills that I had briefed in our OPORD, when I got back to the convoy (because my radio was not working I had to get out and get back to see what was going on) my platoon sergeant had the aid and litter truck up behind the wrong truck, and we did not have fire superiority yet. Anyways I got our guys trying to fire back more and then get our casualties moved and our truck out of there to the ambulance exchange point. After we got our patients evacuated we got back onto the road heading to our aid stations, unfortunately we were then hit by another small arms attack and took 4 more casualties that we had to evacuate out. After setting up at our next ambulance exchange point we finally go back on the road and headed to our aid station. At our aid station we had just enough time to set everything up before we received some casualties from the front lines that we had to treat and move back for further care. Finally, in the afternoon we started back along our route and were about 3 kilometers from our FOB when we spotted an IED and had to get out and do our checks. Thankfully I was able to see the IED before it was set off and we had to back up and do our checks, at that point we found a secondary IED and had to move farther back do our checks again and then call in the EOD guys to blow the IED's . After that we continued back to the FOB and had one more contact which was just small arms fires but we were able to just increase speed to break contact and did not take any casualties. Unfortunately everything did not go as smooth as I would have hoped for it to go. We had 2 negligent discharges (one from my platoon sergeant and another one from someone in the other platoon) this was after I had stressed 5-6 times about weapon awareness because some groups had, had negligent discharges the day before. Thankfully, the things I had immediate control over seemed to go okay, we were able to get our 9-line medevac calls out quickly along with our ACE, SALUTE and Sitreps. We had a lot of issues though things got better throughout the day, we had more stuff go on than I can cover now but I might get into later. Overall it wasn't terrible, though it was not a lot of fun when I was in it because I was getting a constant earful from the cadre throughout the whole day, but looking back it was a good learning experience and I think I would do a whole lot better in the future.