FORT MACON, N.C. — Soldiers from 3rd Long Range Surveillance Detachment, Company C, 1st Squadron, 38th Cavalry, 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps, in conjunction with U.S. Coast Guardsmen from the Fort Macon Coast Guard Station, conducted open-water combat training Sept. 10 to 14 off the coast of Shackleford Island, N.C.
After a weeklong training event involving classroom training, water survivability, day and night nautical navigation, day and night tactical beach assaults and rigorous physical training the Fort Bragg-based Soldiers from 3rd LRSD honed their waterborne insertion capabilities.
“Water insertion is a critical technique for the detachment,” said 1st Lt. Remington Adams, detachment leader for the 3rd LRSD. “Being able to coordinate with the USCG for this type of training was excellent.”
“It was a phenomenal opportunity to aid and assist these Soldiers in their training,” said Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate Thaddeus M. Bouchard, Officer in Charge of USCG-Fort Macon. “In this joint environment we get to see what other services are bringing to the table.”
The LRSD brought their gear, zodiacs and motivation to the table in order to expand its waterborne insertion capabilities.
“This was a big step in our off-post training platform and was a way to confirm our previous training,” said Adams. “We have conducted training on Mott Lake at Fort Bragg where the water was nice and predictable, but once we got out on the open ocean, it added a completely different dynamic.”
Using a Coast Guard cutter to perform extended length training made the training more realistic for the Soldiers.
“We used the cutter as a consolidation and reorganization point for our zodiacs,” said Sgt. Silas P. Gayner, assistant team leader, 3rd LRSD, “Using the cutter is a great way to provide relevant training in order for us to practice open water infiltration.”
The USCG did more than provide relevant training opportunities. They also showcased survival and navigational gear, types of boats and drills they use on the water.
One specialized item the USGC uses is their survival vest.
“We have different vests than the Army Soldiers,” said Bouchard. “Incorporated in our vests are a GPS like beacon that can work worldwide, handheld flares, pencil flares, dye that can be seen from a search and rescue plane, a knife and a day-night strobe-light.”
For an LRSD that specializes in missions that require them to not be seen, using a strobe-light might not work that well, but other things may be adaptable to the LRS waterborne survivability and combat effectiveness.
Using a GPS beacon, a flare or the dye may be a viable option if the Soldier was placed in a survival situation, lost on the water or separated from their team, said Bouchard.
Soldiers simulated being lost on the water to witness the coastguardsmen perform “man overboard” drills.
“It was a good opportunity for me to perform drills using the Soldiers,” said Seaman Jeremy T. Love, crewmember on the USCG Station Fort Macon 47-foot Motor Life Boat. “We do a lot of training, but we usually use training aids like dummies or floatation rings. I got to feel what it was like to lift up groups of people, one right after another.”
Love also got to feel what it was like to lift a zodiac over his head repeatedly while he performed physical training with the LRS Soldiers.
“It was fun and different from the type of workout I’m used to,” said Love. “Swimming with the boats and running on the beach with the boats was really physical.”
Long days and late nights of training demanded a lot of the participants.
“It was rough being on the boats for extended periods of time, bouncing in and out performing the same tasks we would during a real mission,” said Gayner.
Gayner also said that the training and assistance of the USCG was crucial to their detachment’s overall training goals.
The training goals and objectives were simple for Soldiers of the detachment.
“Our main goal for this training is to let the guys get familiar with and have time on the water,” said Adams. “The ability to adopt (standard operating procedures) and see what equipment is available and what mission sets they are used for will allow us to expand our training and our real world missions.
“It’s good for units to expand on training objectives and to see what they can take away form training events like this,” he added.
“It was good to train with the subject matter experts. The coastguardsmen knew exactly what we need to know in order to be safe and effective in the water,” said Staff Sgt. Colin Weingart, assistant team leader, 3rd LRSD. “Making mistakes and learning lessons here will save lives when we get called to do this in future conflicts.”