FORT CAMPBELL, KY (Sgt Jacob Mahaffey) – Soldiers from 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and 1st Brigade Combat Team (Bastogne), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) came together for a combined training exercise on Fort Campbell Jan. 12-14.
Special Forces Soldiers taught a class on communications and all-terrain vehicles to the Bastogne Soldiers. This was the second time the units came together in less than a month’s time.
The previous training event was hosted by 1st Brigade and involved firing of tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided missile system, also known as TOW missiles, according to the event coordinator, a Green Beret in 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group.
“This was the last joint training event in a series of five, however I am positive there will be more training in the future,” he said.
Although training between Special Forces and conventional forces is uncommon, the event coordinator said it is being utilized more.
“This training was conducted in order to sustain and improve Special Operation Forces and conventional forces’ interoperability while working toward the Army regulation SOF 2022 goal of interdependence between SOF and CF.”
On the first day of training, the group of communications Soldiers and platoon radiotelephone operators, or RTO, from 1st BCT, learned from a Special Forces communications sergeant about wave theory, antenna principles and antenna construction.
During the block of instruction, radios, antennas and other equipment were passed around the class for hands-on training. The second day covered how the Army used satellite communications.
Pfc. Joseph Daniel Clere, from Jacksonville, Florida, from Company D, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 1st BCT, participated in the training as a platoon RTO. Although he is an infantryman by trade, he was eager to join the class.
“I like to learn and was excited when I was told the training was going to be led by 5th Special Forces Group. I learned a lot. I was taught how to make antennas that will reach incredible distances,” he said. “When I receive my frequency, I will be able to construct my antenna to ensure I will be able to reach the area I need to for communication.”
This was not the first time he has worked with 5th SF, he said. “We’ve done ranges with 5th Group; they have extra insight and training, which makes it great for us.”
On a different range, Soldiers were being certified on ATVs, all-terrain vehicles, which included four wheelers and side-by-side Razors. A four wheeler is sat on similar to a motorcycle; with throttle controlled by the hand, and the Razor is driven almost identical to a car. The group of Soldiers had mixed experience, ranging from riding since they were children to having never seen an ATV.
The class started with a safety brief by the Green Beret instructors. They made sure to stress safety as the most important aspect of the training. Next, the instructors took the Soldiers through a T-CLOCS (tires and wheels, controls, lights, oil, chassis, stand) pre-inspection of the four wheelers and Razor.
After learning the basic functions and controls of the ATVs, the Soldiers were split into two groups and learned basic riding techniques for approximately three hours. The final test was a trail ride led by the Green Berets.
The Soldiers had to safely maneuver their vehicles over the terrain and obstacles, which included fallen trees, holes, inclines and declines.
Sgt. Robert Brown, from Decatur, Tennessee, from 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, volunteered for the training to help his company.
“As a company master driver, it is on me to be able to cross-train the Soldiers in my company,” he said. “I can share my knowledge from this training, in the near or far future, on combat deployments or field rotations.”
Brown said he enjoyed everything about the training, but one part in particular.
“The trail ride was a great test of driving skills. It wasn’t easy, but I had a great time on it,” he said. “I like to learn from anyone I can, and 5th Special Forces Group has a lot of uncommon knowledge.”
According to the Green Beret event coordinator, the training benefited both units equally.
“One difficulty of joint operations is the understanding of different unit’s assets and capabilities,” he said.
“This training highlighted some SOF assets and capabilities that the trainees were previously unaware of it also highlighted that SF is a small force with limited logistics and manpower,” he said. “This allows both units to better understand one another and build off of each other’s strength and weaknesses, increasing our ability to engage and defeat future enemies.”