Soldiers with the Arizona Army National Guard's 856th Military Police Company and Sailors from the Navy Reserve's Expeditionary Medical Facility Dallas-One teamed up in the Black Hills region of South Dakota June 12 to train on convoy operations and reacting to roadside bombs as part of training exercise Golden Coyote.
To make the training as realistic as possible, Army Capt. Cody Spann, the officer in charge of the training lane and who conducted more than 200 route reconnaissance and route clearance patrols in Iraq, strategically placed obstacles and other threats throughout the course in addition to roadside bombs.
"When they go through the [training] lane, I am teaching them how to look, find and identify [improvised explosive devices]," said Spann. "I am also teaching them how to get the wounded out of the area and continue on with their mission."
Spann said situational awareness is key.
"The biggest lesson to learn from the course is to be vigilant," said Spann, adding that if there is a suspected roadside bomb team members should stop, call in an unexploded ordnance report to their headquarters and get and explosive ordnance disposal team to come out and verify and clear the suspected device.
The training is critical for units such as the 856th MP Co., who may be tasked with route patrols, route reconnaissance, convoy security and convoy escorts in Afghanistan.
"We're scheduled to deploy next year," said Sgt. 1st Class Chad Dixon, of the 856th MP Co. "Any training we can get is going to be helpful, not only for our own security, but because we are responsible for the safety of others when we do convoy escorts or convoy security."
Service members will go through the IED lane during both daylight and at night.
"It is beneficial to have us go through the course during the day and night," said Dixon. "The night lane worked well because some of the IEDs were so well camouflaged that we just couldn't see them. So it gave us a chance to use our night vision and our thermals to try and spot IEDs or somebody trying to detonate a bomb."
Training during the day revealed other clues as well.
"The day lane, since we did that second, helped provide us with a little more information on how the terrain can be used and how IEDs can be emplaced," said Dixon.
And training with the Navy added another level to the training.
"It was difficult training with the Navy because they do not speak the same language when executing tactical movements," said Dixon. "But it did add to the training, because we now have better ideas on how we can improve to protect our assets or package that we're escorting."
Navy Cmdr. Gary Willis, of EMF Dallas-One, said this was the first time his personnel have trained on a lane like this.
"I think this is going to prepare my young crew, my young Sailors for immediate placement out in the field."
And enhancing those skills is one of the goals of Golden Coyote.
"Military forces are able to participate in numerous warrior tasks and battle drills, such as urban combat operations, medical aid, combat patrols and firearms training," said Army Maj. Travis Eastman, a Golden Coyote training coordinator.
There are 37 units representing 17 states and six foreign nations participating in the exercise and from multiple branches of military service – Army, Navy and Air Force – working together to create an invaluable training experience, said Eastman.
Article by Sgt. 1st Class Theanne Tangen, 129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment