Civil leaders get inside glimpse of Army Special Operations

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http://news.soc.mil/releases/News Archive/2010/April/100430-02.html

2010) – More than 30 civilian leaders of business and industry from across the country were given a unique opportunity participate in an Army Special Operations training exercise as part of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference visit to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., April 28.

The JCOC is a program sponsored by the Department of Defense and is designed to help civilian leaders increase their knowledge of the military. This year’s tour, hosted by the U.S. Special Operations Command, is the 79th one conducted since the program began in 1948. The program helps to increase exposure and understanding of specific aspects of the military, this year’s being the nation’s Special Operations Forces.

Participants in the tour arrived for the final day of USASOC’s annual Capabilities Exercise, in which all areas of Army Special Operations are showcased to civilian leaders. Right from the moment the group disembarked their buses they were plunged into the training scenario, based around the Special Forces Qualification Course’s culmination training exercise, Robin Sage.

As the visitors arrived at the USASOC headquarters, they found themselves as role-players in the scenario, in which they are captured by soldiers from the People’s Republic of Pineland, a fictional country used in the exercise.

After a quick briefing by Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland Jr., USASOC’s commanding general, and a military free fall demonstration by the Black Daggers parachute demonstration team, the visitors continued were moved to a Special Forces training complex.

Throughout the morning, participants watched sniper and shoot house demonstrations, then were able to step into the shoes of Army Special Operators and fire several of the weapons themselves, including the M4 carbine, MP5 submachine gun, a 9-mm Glock handgun and various sniper rifles. They were also able to view medical displays from a 528th Sustainment Brigade medical team, as well as a variety of equipment used by an Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha.

“This is so thrilling!” said Rich Homberg, the president and general manager for Detroit Public Television. “I did much better on the MP5 because it had a lot less kick to it.”

For many, it was their first time firing a weapon, but there were plenty of Soldiers available to personally instruct each visitor on proper techniques.

“He [the instructor] said it was not bad at all, especially for my first time handling a pistol,” said Marie Manning, vice president for Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.

Although for most of the visitors this was their initial introduction to Army Special Operations, a few, such as Bob Hyde, the vice president of community relations for the Tennessee Titans football team, came in with some prior knowledge.

“Being based in Nashville, we already have a relationship with the Nightstalkers at Fort Campbell,” Hyde said. “But this is the first time I’ve gotten to see the other units’ training, like Special Forces.”

Hyde has helped organize similar visits between the Titans and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, or Nightstalkers, at Fort Campbell, Ky. Most recently he said several of the players and cheerleaders visited the unit’s flight training simulators, on which the Army’s only dedicated Special Operations helicopter pilots are trained.

After a lunch of Meals-Ready-to-Eat, the scenario began to escalate as the area was hit by a simulated assault from Pineland guerrilla fighters. The visitors were quickly relocated to another training area with a mock urban site controlled by the fighters. As they moved on top of a building at the site, two MH-6 Little Birds and one MH-47 Chinook flown by the Nightstalkers landed on nearby rooftops carrying several squads from the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Fighting back the guerrillas in a simulated gun battle, the Rangers rescued the visitor “hostages” and boarded them onto several Chinooks for an emergency evacuation. Upon landing at Simmons Army Airfield, the visitors participated in a Repatriation ceremony, commemorating their rescue and the completion of the scenario.

In roughly seven short hours, the visitors, many of whom knew little to nothing about Army Special Operations, witnessed only a small portion of the capabilities these Soldiers bring to the battlefield. However, the first-hand experience was enough to give many of them a new-found respect and appreciation of the mission Army Special Operations Soldiers conduct.

“This job is a lot harder than I first thought,” Homberg said. “It takes a special kind of person to do what these guys do.”

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Soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment fast-rope from an MH-47 Chinook during a capabilities exercise for the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference at Fort Bragg, N.C. on April 28, 2010. (U.S. Army photo by Trish Harris, USASOC DCS PAO)

Soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment descend in an MH-6 Little Bird helicopter flown by pilots from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, into a staged firefight during an exercise demonstrating the range of U.S. Army Special Operations capabilities for the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference on April 28, 2010, at Fort Bragg, N.C. (U.S. Army photo by Trish Harris, USASOC DCS PAO)

A squad from the 75th Ranger Regiment breach a door as they storm a building containing mock guerilla fighters during a MOUT demonstration for a Joint Civilian Orientation Conference visit to USASOC April 28. (Photo by Sgt. Tony Hawkins, USASOC PAO)

An Army Special Forces sniper demonstrates the effectiveness of the M107 Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifle during the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference visit to USASOC, April 28. (Photo by Sgt. Tony Hawkins, USASOC PAO)
 
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