CAMP ATTERBURY, IN — They wear different uniforms, a hodgepodge of patterns. Some are in Army Combat Uniforms — the gray-green digital pattern that is the current wear of the Army, others wore the older Battle Dress uniform that was phased out of service. They addressed each other by first name as opposed to rank and last name. While to some this informality would indicate a lack of discipline, to the soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group it is just how business is done.
The Ohio National Guard unit was at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind., last week for a quarterly training exercise.
Where as a typical National Guard unit will have a two-day drill weekend, the 2nd-19th SFG consolidates their drill days into a number of week-long drills, said the acting commander.
“This allows us to get out here and do more in one drill period than we would using the conventional drill schedule,” he said. “This also works out for our team members that live a significant distance away.”
During their training at Camp Atterbury, the Special Forces soldiers performed airborne drops from 12,500 feet and 5,000 feet. They also qualified with their individual weapons systems and reflexive fire ranges.
One of the tasks scheduled during their training was conducting foot patrols in the wilderness.
“We want to get back to the woods,” said the acting commander. “There has been a lot of focus on urban operations, but that is one facet of what we do. So we’re out here doing basic combat foot patrol. We travel by the hardest route possible simply because no one would expect anyone to be there and that gives us the element of surprise.”
The patrol started like any other mission: with pre-combat checks and inspections, ensuring all team members had all their mission essential gear. During the course of the patrol, the squad-sized unit would refine their techniques of movement and communicating through hand signals.
“What we are also doing is collecting as much ‘intel’ about our surroundings,” said the acting commander. “When we stop we’re looking, listening and smelling, using all our senses to check an area.”
While the concept of walking a foot patrol may seem mundane for these highly trained Soldiers, without the basics you can’t do the high-speed things, said the team training non-commissioned officer.
“You can’t do advanced operations until you master the basics. As an Operational Detachment Alpha, it’s important for us to ensure everyone of the team has the foundation of the basics. We do a lot of sustainment training. We still have to maintain proficiency in skill level three, four and five since we’re all non-commissioned officers,” said the team training non-commissioned officer. “We hit the ground running when we got here with three military free fall operations, two drops at 12,500 feet and one at 5,000 feet. There are so many facets and aspects to our training and the credentials we have to maintain; airborne proficiency is just one of them,” he added.
The soldiers said Camp Atterbury gives the 2nd-19th SFG a good location for their training.
“We come here about 4 – 5 times a year,” said the training non-commissioned officer. “We’re a relatively local unit. The amenities here at Camp Atterbury give us a lot of opportunities to train, whether is areas for patrolling to ranges or the airfield. The staff here is very helpful and makes our training easier to accomplish.”