Ft. Bliss Soldiers train in first live-fire village

Fort Bliss

EL PASO, Texas - The sounds are coming from high off the hilltops surrounding East Fort Bliss. Tanks are spraying the enemy with high caliber motors and from my vantage point, damage appears devastating.

"Al Qaeda was in Village Malakhand and our objective was to assault and take the village from the Taliban," said Sgt. Matthew Downes.

This is Fort Bliss' first live-fire village where soldiers are able to train by firing off real artillery and tank rounds at buildings in a village real live battle in Iraq.

In this simulated drill, the troops have already evacuated the civilian population and are now in a "danger-close environment" with the enemy.

"On the objective when they're moving up, snipers are just priding over with the motors providing indirect fire form," said Sgt. Nathan McClintock.

Before coming on this trip, I had to sign a waiver and gear up to protect myself from potential fragmentary debris. This may just be a drill, but the ammunition is live, the risk is real, and the effect impressive.

"The confidence level I have now from when we do training scenarios like this, it's a big confidence booster because the knowledge that we can go out there and perform our job," McClintock said.

Major Wallace Myers tells me in recent war-time history, flare ups of violence take place in urban terrains or populated cities just like Village Malakhand.

"So being able to train in that type of environment in a realistic setting like we have here at Malakhand, it allows the troops to get ready for that type of mission to be able to be successful, deploy, fight the fight and return home safely," Wallace said.

Most of the soldiers I spoke with have already fought in Iraq or Afghanistan, but there were some who had never seen close-combat or been able to train in it.

Now they can.


comments powered by Disqus