Zombies Attack, TFP HHC Responds
Task Force Protector Base Defense Operations received reports of zombies spotted in the vicinity of Malholic Range, June 12, 2012. Soldiers of Task Force Protector, Headquarters and Headquarters Company were ordered to assess and neutralize the threat.
Soldiers of HHC arrived on the scene at 8:00 a.m. and soon realized the situation was more complex than initial reports had indicated. Zombie hoards had overrun Malholic Range and were attacking civilians in the area.
Outnumbered in their fight, the leadership had to quickly make decisions to gain the upper hand on the situation and minimize any further civilian deaths.
"It was chaos; zombies were flanking to our left and right," said 1st Sgt. Michael Sweeney, senior enlisted advisor to the commander, Task Force Protector HHC. "We had to act fast and we knew that breaking down into small kill-teams would allow us to maneuver and outsmart the enemy."
This simulated situation was a scenario Sweeney presented to his Soldiers as they participated in a Zombie Range Competition to boost morale during their nine month deployment.
Soldiers organized into teams and volunteered to compete against each other. The teams identified and engaged zombie targets while communicating with their team members.
"I had a dream after watching 'The Walking Dead' where I was fighting off a zombie hoard," said Capt. Jolene Ayres, commander, Task Force Protector HHC. "At the same time, I was thinking of a unique way to boost the morale of the company involving a little fun while incorporating some tactical level training."
Soldiers were issued 20 rounds of ammunition to engage targets at three stations. At the first station, Soldiers had to side-step to the next station while engaging a zombie target surrounded by civilian targets. Points were deducted by an observer for stopping forward movement, shooting more than the allotted six rounds, or engaging the civilian targets.
Once the team members made it to the second station, Soldiers had to engage a zombie target using seven rounds in a kneeling, supported position. Points were taken at this station for not putting the weapon on safe after shooting the allotted rounds. The last station was a kneeling, unsupported shooting position requiring the Soldier to expend the last of his or her seven rounds.
To successfully complete this range, Sweeney said Soldiers had to use target discrimination and precision marksmanship to incapacitate the enemy zombie targets.
"Rarely do we get an opportunity to provide an alternative method of training," said Ayres. "The combination of zombie targets, Rules of Engagement scenarios, target discrimination, precision fires with an emphasis on shooting, and moving and communicating is valuable training," she explained. "The zombie targets doubled as a method for the company to let off some steam while the competition promoted team building, advanced rifle marksmanship skills and esprit de corps," said Ayres.
Ayers plans on having a Zombie Range Competition Part 2 before the deployment is over, and she wants to make the next scenario more difficult.
"The next zombie range will be a little harder with different obstacles. Soldiers won't know who is friend or foe until seconds before they are told to engage," said Ayres. "We plan to challenge them even harder."
The winning team of the Zombie Range Competition was Team VIP, composed of Capt. Brent Reno, Joint Visitors Bureau; Master Sgt. Thomas D. Niederquell, Office of the Inspector General; Sgt. 1st Class Fernando Rodriquez, JVB; Staff Sgt. Faiza Z. Evans, Public Affairs Office; and Sgt. Ashley Schei, JVB.
The winners received a certificate with their team name, a tactical knife purchased by Ayres, and priceless bragging rights.
Article by Staff Sgt. Faiza Z. Evans, Army.mil