by CPT Larry Josefowski
FORT MEADE, Md. � Someone coming up to the training site on the edge of post here would see soldiers busy setting up a site, pounding stakes and unloading 2-� ton trucks and humvees. The company commander and his first sergeant are off to the side, apparently evaluating the training or discussing the exercise�s next phase. Suddenly, the first sergeant falls to the ground, accompanied by shouts of �Sniper!�
Members of 392d Signal Battalion, who until that moment had been struggling with tents, radios and camouflage in heat Category 5 conditions, suddenly had a different priority. As people grabbed weapons and assumed temporary fighting positions, one soldier low-crawled forward to aid the fallen soldier. SSG Timothy Butenuth, a member of the unit�s operations section, low-crawled to his fallen leader, SFC James Accordino, quickly assessing the situation and treating Accordino for the �wound� and prevention for shock. Meanwhile, the commander directed a small quick-reaction force to secure the situation.
After the team returned, CPT Larry Josefowski shouted �all clear� and gathered his soldiers into the relative shade of a 2-� ton truck. He then led them through an after-action review of the morning�s training, which had culminated in the �sniper attack.�
The 392d Signal Battalion, which is headquartered in West Hazleton, Pa., was undergoing the final part of a training-assessment module. Shadowed by MSG Alan Kurtz of 311th Training Support Regiment at Fort Lee, Va., since the beginning of annual training, the unit was simulating a move to a tactical situation. The previous day had seen the battalion wrap up its formal participation in Grecian Firebolt 2002, where from a garrison location they managed tactical long-haul communication links from the relative comfort of an un-airconditioned basement.
While most exercise participants were performing recovery operations or returning to home station, 392d had raised its operational tempo. A flurry of logistics coordination, movement orders and operational issues were being organized even as GF �02 was winding down. Designed to meet the evaluation�s requirements and cause minimal interruption to the exercise, the commander and staff had many hours of extra coordination to lay on sites, rations and water, and deal with all the other issues that go with a unit deploying to the field. Today, with 95-degree temperatures, high humidity and a battalion�s worth of equipment to unload, it was difficult work.
�Although Grecian Firebolt was an excellent test of our technical ability to manage a variety of communication assets, it�s important that we don�t forget our primary role as soldiers,� said LTC James Hendricks, 392d Signal Battalion�s commander. �In our role as a composite Signal battalion, we�re an echelon-above-corps unit, but we must be prepared to operate in any situation or environment. From that perspective, this was a realistic test of the unit�s ability to move to a new site.�
Accordino, who had planned the exercise�s individual training aspects, echoed the battalion commander�s words. �Soldiers need to be able to do the basics,� he said. �We designed the sniper attack, the heat casualty and the nuclear-biological-chemical attack for the soldier to practice these important soldier skills and to raise interest in the exercise.�
As unit members refilled their canteens after the AAR, they returned to the task of setting up the site. �This has been a learning process for all of us. Safety is paramount, and the heat has forced us to modify our training plans, but we�re still getting a lot of feedback from leaders, evaluators and soldiers to drive future training,� said Josefowski. �Although not a traditional way to end annual training, this tough, realistic training tested both the staff�s and the soldiers� mettle in getting the mission completed.�
CPT Josefowski commands Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 392d Signal Battalion.