Under 'fire,' Cape unit trains on vehicle recovery

Staff Sgt. Tracy Cluck of the 1140th's Forward Support Company scans for 'enemy' forces during a vehicle recovery mission on Saturday at the Missouri National Guard's Macon Training Site.

MACON, Mo. -- For several long minutes, the countryside became a battleground.

Amidst the roar of gunfire and a sky full of smoke, the Soldiers of the 1140th Engineer Battalion's Forward Support Company were training on the proper recovery of a damaged vehicle in hostile territory. Of course, the M-16s were loaded with blanks and the smoke came from hand grenade simulators.

But, as far as training goes, it created a pretty realistic scene, which is exactly the point of annual training.

The 1140th Engineer Battalion is at its AT at the Missouri National Guard's Macon Training Site. Members of the Forward Support Company -- just before a heavy rain started to fall -- trained under a scenario that focused on recovering a Humvee that had been damaged by an improvised explosive device. The 1140th is based in Cape Girardeau.

With some of the Soldiers hiding out and posing as "enemy combatants," the team rolled in two vehicles -- one with a security team, the other with two wrecker operators to haul away the damaged Humvee.

As the two wrecker operators worked, shots came from two directions in a wooded area. The training NCO cautioned the security team to watch for IEDs and gunfire was exchanged and smoke canisters were ignited.

The scenario only lasted a few minutes, but the 1140th's readiness noncommissioned officer, Sgt. 1st Class John Worley, said the training is critical to being prepared for potential deployments.

"It's very important training," Worley said. "If we're ever deployed, the recovery team needs to be up to speed. They need to be ready if any vehicle goes down. Security teams also need to know how to react to set up a perimeter. As Soldiers, we have to be ready for anything."

This annual training has been one of the best Worley's been on, he said.

"This is one of the most realistic ATs I've been to yet," he said. "Everybody's training on their MOS, our Army Warrior Tasks, night training. This has just been some tremendous training. It's been a great opportunity. We have 15 days to train and we're really taking advantage of it."

Staff Sgt. Cody Jones, the 1140th FSC training NCO, said AT takes the Citizen-Soldiers away from the routine of armory training and puts them in a more realistic setting.

"Once we're here, it gives us a chance to do real-life scenario training," Jones said. "That helps motivate the Soldiers and helps us to get the training we need."

Planning for this AT has taken three years, Jones said, with intensive planning starting in earnest six months ago. All of the training helps platoon sergeants and others gauge proficiency and show the strengths of the units and also reveal areas that need improvement.

Spc. Brandon DuBois said this is one of the better ATs he's been on, as well.

"It's really a lot better," he said. "It's a really positive thing. Everyone here is a Soldier and these are things we all need to know how to do. It's familiarization training to maintain what we know or should know."

After the training exercise, the Soldiers got together to talk about what was done well and what needed improvement. Overall, the Soldiers were told they did a good job and that it's better to find out which areas need work in a training exercise rather than while on a deployment.

"There's always room for improvement," Worley said. "That's why we train."

For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please call 1-800-GoGuard or visit www.moguard.com.


For more information about this release, please contact Scott Moyers at (573) 339-6264 or e-mail him at scott.moyers1@us.army.mil.