I attended a fieldcraft weekend put on by 1 Shepherd and the Operation Eastwind staff. This was not a fieldcraft class, it was more of a “put what you know to the test and learn from each other” event. This is exactly what ended up happening and it was one of the most valuable training events I’ve been to.
Unfortunately, while we set out on our company wide freedom assault – US first squad was getting hammered just a few hundred meters west of our objective on HWY 27. This just so happens to be the same location that we had been ambushed two nights before and was very close to where we had made visual contact on the first day. Because of all this, it was decided we would push into that area and show the Communists what we look like when they don’t catch us with our pants down.
At step off time, our column of M151s, M880 pick up trucks and an M35 deuce and a half rumbled out of the base. We dropped people off to open the gates leading to the AO who were then picked up by the trail vehicle in the column. The rest of the column stopped at grid 708, 509 while our squad pushed down into the ravine to the south and parked our mutts in some thick trees. We then patrolled southeast to 7045 5091 on foot, clearing the way for the rest of the company. We set security while everyone else drove up and dismounted.
The company assault on the poor little ambulance started as all others do – with a Warning Order, or WARNO. The company gathered in the Tactical Operation Center (TOC) to receive a heads up that we would be going out, the basic flow of the mission, which squads would have which tasks, and when the full Operation Order (OPORD) would be issued.
When we awoke from our death sleep, we were on QRF duty. While on duty, a squad designates one person to run the TOC communications shack, one to be the TOC runner and the rest to be a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) in case a unit in the field makes contact.
For those who aren’t aware, Operation Eastwind runs on an 18 hour day rather than a 24 hour day. Each 18 hours you get 6 hours of rest, 6 hours of QRF duty and a 6 hour mission. Of course, it never really turns out that way but that’s how it’s written down. Because of this 18 hour “day”, the 9 day game really turns into a 10-12 “day” game and it means you’re never really awake the same hours 2 days in a row. And yes, it definitely takes some getting used to!
With that in mind, our next mission took place in the wee hours of the morning. According to the sun data we received during our briefing, the sun would be up ~30 minutes after we were to leave camp. This put sunrise just after we entered the AO so we didn’t bother bringing night vision. We’d learn later that whomever provided this information forgot to adjust for daylight savings…so we performed our mission in complete darkness.
This year, like those before it – a handful of milsim enthusiasts gathered at Dday Adventure Park in Wyandotte, Oklahoma to play a military scenario game that is easily the most realistic available in the US at this time. I was slated to be bravo team leader of US Squad 3 prior to the event. I felt nice and comfy with this assignment – I wouldn’t have to wake up early like a squad leader to receive orders and I could hop along caring for my troops with relative ease (and not carry a fricking PRC 77!). My plan was to focus on leading my fireteam and somehow getting a little more sleep than last year!
What actually happened was quite a bit different…