Author Topic: Operation Eastwind VI - December Training Event - Cedar Creek AAR  (Read 2803 times)

bgallion

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Operation Eastwind VI   
150730Dec12 – 160800Dec12
Training (Field Craft) Event Cedar Creek
AAR – 3rd  Squad (PL) - Gallion

PLAN – To conduct training operations at Paddy Creek which would include: Patrolling techniques and SOP’s,  individualized training to gain competencies in field craft,  practice and develop competencies in communication via radio’s.

Part 1:  In the morning hours between 0730 and 0900 , 3rd Squad would receive our OPORD, develop a plan for a patrol, conduct PCI”S and rehearsals, and insert into our AO.  Our plan was to insert at grid 77099657 and travel 100 meters at a bearing of 254 degrees.  We would then set up a Security Halt (S.L.L.S) to acclimate to our new environment.   We would occupy the Sec. Halt for 10 minutes then proceed on the same bearing for another 300 meters.  Once at this ERP we would follow the creek for approximately 800 meters.  Our general azimuth would be 270 degrees.   Once we hit our 800m we would be in our second ERP.  From here, we would take a bearing of 330 degrees for 600m to reach our final location, where we would set up a hide position.  Upon establishment of our hide, we would conduct small classes on individual skill sets until we received a FRAGO.


Part 2:  FRAGO:  Mission:  Link up with higher at grid 75309643 NLT 1530. 

Plan: From our hide position, we would head south into a draw.  Then we would follow the draw west until it intersected another stream.  From this intersection we would take a compass bearing of 270 degrees and travel 500m to link up with higher.


Part 3:  FRAGO:  Mission:  Between the hours of 1600 and 0800, 3rd Squad would conduct a Raid on one of two bridges on Boydsville road, destroying it with high explosives to deny the enemy effective use of the road.

Plan:  In order to be properly rested, we would LD our Hide at 0330.  Move NW along a horse trail to the border (Cedar Creek).  From their we would follow a creek bed up a draw (330)to the location of our Primary target, the Eastern Bridge (Grid:75339760).  300 meters from our Objective we would establish an ORP and Alpha would accompany PL Gallion on a leader’s recon of the objective.  Gallion would leave Alpha in an over watch position while he brought Bravo up to assault the objective.  Alpha would effectively become the release point and Bravo would accompany Gallion to the objective and provide security while Gallion planted the charges on the bridge.  Gallion would the fall back with Bravo and detonate the charges on the bridge.  Once the objective was complete.  3rd Squad would regroup, reconsolidate, and head south back to the border for exfil.


PERFORMANCE –

Part 1:
Start  150730Dec12
From  0730 – 0930  Planning phases went smoothly (however, rushed), Gallion (PL) worked out the patrol details while Jackson (APL) got troops squared away and ready to go.  We inserted at the trail head in Boydsville as planned.  Moved 100 meters into the AO and conducted a S.L.L.S. HALT.  There was some definite disagreement within our patrol on the pace counts.  Primary Pace (Fitz) insisted we were at 100 meters while secondary pace Jackson said only 50 meters.  We guesstimated the distance and ended up in our Security Halt at approximately 100 meters.  Spent 10 minutes as planned with head gear off and getting acclimated to the new environment.  Next , we started off on course, then about 100 meters in we took almost a 45 degree turn to the south.  I halted the patrol and asked our secondary compass man to verify our bearing.  Alpha team, (leading team) had moved about 20- 30 meters before they turned and saw that I had halted the patrol.  I moved to link up with them and asked the primary compass man to check his bearing.  As anticipated we were several degrees off.  We corrected and continued the patrol.  We moved another 200 meters and met our first ERP.  From here our original plan was to follow the creek bed, however, I talked with my point man Jackson and we agreed to skirt the creek on a bearing of approximately 270 degrees.  We moved out.  Halfway through this leg of the patrol the patrol was halted on account of Alpha team thinking something was wrong with how the terrain was.  There was a misunderstanding that the 270 degree bearing was an “approximate” bearing in that it would fluctuate according to the creek.  We resolved the issue and continued. 

We arrived at our next ERP and verified our location on the Slugger.  Since we were running late, we decided to stop and eat lunch at this location.  Received radio traffic informing us that Three East block soldiers were moving north on the Border (Cedar Creek).  We finished lunch and started on our last leg of the patrol to locate an adequate hide position. Bravo took point. 

Not even a hundred meters into our movement there was serious disagreement in the patrol on the bearing.  Secondary compass insisted that we were drifting off right.  Primary compass and PL verified that the course we were taking was correct.   We continued on our patrol.  Hit a draw at 300 meter just as anticipated and once we reached the top of the next hill we received a FRAGO to rendezvous with higher to retrieve mission essential gear for that night.  We proceeded to establish an ORP and Gallion took Bravo team on a leader’s recon to find an adequate Hide position.  Gallion left Bravo on site and went back to bring Alpha team in.  We dropped rucks, and prepped for our movement to meet with higher.

End Part 1 – 151445Dec12

Part 2:

Start 151445Dec12
We concealed our rucks and departed the Hide position at 1445.  We travelled with combat loads so we could move quickly.  We headed back into the draw we had crossed previously.  We headed west following the draw to the intersection of the creek.  Things went according to plan.  We began our climb up the hill and about halfway up, our point man halted the patrol.  We had spotted 3 unidentified infantry moving towards our location.  We brought the patrol on line as best we could.  Jackson called out to the unknown people to HALT.  They stopped.  He then instructed them to send one man down to be identified.  Their entire patrol began walking down towards us.  Jackson again instructed them to send just one man.  They stopped; however, they were close enough now to be identified as East Block soldiers.  I told Jackson to capture them, and then someone from our Patrol opened fire on them, I shot as well.  (We all had clear sight pictures and if the bullets were real I have no doubt that we would have destroyed the entire 3 man patrol)  The EB guys started to retreat.  We started bounded forward up the hill of death as best we could in pursuit.  By the time we reached the top we were exhausted and the patrol was out of sight.  I (Gallion) called off the pursuit and we continued on mission.  (Time Apx. 1505.)

We continued on mission and had some issues in the dense vegetation.  We were not taking a compass bearing and it basically screwed us.  We back tracked and eventually got back on course and linked up with higher at 1545.   We received our night mission and mission essential equipment (demolition charges) and proceeded on with our mission.  We split our patrol to, one team to take the charges back to the hide and prep dinner, the other team was to conduct a water treatment and resupply.  Both teams linked back up at the hide just before civil twilight ended.  Upon returning to the hide, Alpha challenged Gallion with, “What’s the running password?” Gallion responded with, “We never established a password”.  OOPS.  Troops stripped down gear and we began cooking dinner and planning for our Raid.

We came to the decision to rack out at 2000 and wake up at 0200, eat breakfast, prep gear, and LD our hide with full rucks at 0330.

End Part 2 – 152000Dec12

Part 3:
Start- 160200Dec12
Squad wakes up at 0200 and begins packing gear and doing their assigned tasks.  I finalized the plan and we had a real down and dirty mission order before we stepped off.  We departed our hide at a bearing of approximately 330.  We ran into a was seemed to be a trail; however, it was making us head south.  We were never supposed to head south so we kept moving and found our horse trail to move down to the border (Cedar Creek).  Upon arriving at the border, Jackson and I did a quick recon of the area to find the creek runoff.  We had no luck.   I made the call to head at a bearing of 330 until we ran into the creek.  We did exactly that and ran into a runoff (creek) and began following it.  As we were moving the creek started veering off to the right and we started heading northwest.  This was not expected.  We halted to establish our ORP and do our final preparations.  Something didn’t feel right and I knew we were not where we were supposed to be.  We needed to be farther west then we were.  We rucked back up and headed west over the spur and sure enough we hit our Creek bed.  We skirted the creek bed looking for a place to enter and the terrain got more and more steep/ dangerous.  For the safety of the patrol, we moved higher up on the spur.  Since it would be dangerous to go into the creek I elected that we head north, hit the road, and then follow it to the bridge.  The reasons behind this decision were that, the creek was no longer an option due to safety, walking through the leaves and trees was making more noise than an angry cat in bubble wrap, and there was no wind and no ambient noise what so ever.  For this reason I decided that moving quickly and quietly down the road was a better option than plowing our way through the woods.

We established our ORP and headed north toward the road.  We came to the road and set security in order to cross the barbed fence.  We entered the road and began our move down to the bridge.  Bravo led and would take up far side security.  Alpha trailed and would close up our back door and cover the near side/ 6 o’clock position. About 0550, I heard a shots fired to our right, myself and others yelled our “Contact right!!”  I hit the deck, then immediately called out Ambush right. I got up and started moving directly into the enemy’s position shooting at any dark blurb I saw. The rest of the team followed suit.  I dead checked on soldier while Jackson got the patrol on line to sweep through the enemy position.  We swept through, shooting all dark blobs on the ground.  I then told Bravo to hold their position and cover our six o’clock.  I sent Alpha to get far side security of the bridge.  Security was up and I began working on the bridge, but then realized that I had dropped the detonation wire when we made contact.  I started back up the road to find the wire.  I did not warn Bravo that I would be passing in front of them.  Luckily, they didn’t fire on me, they just asked who I was as a passed them.  Another shot rang out while I was picking up the cord in the road.  No telling where it came from exactly or who it was directed at.  I ordered Bravo to push up and cover the area where the shot rang from.  I proceeded down to the bridge to start work on the explosives.

We were already on the objective longer than I wanted.  This being the first time I have ever used this demo kit and the fact that I can’t even see my hand in front of my face, I messed up the connection several times.  Finally, I got a positive detonation and we withdrew back to our ORP.  Once back in our ORP we consolidated, and contacted higher to give a Situation Report.

Our original exfil plan was to head back down to the border and skirt it to a trail we would follow to the staging area.  We decided to do a road march back down the road our OBJ was on so that we could retrieve the demo charges for Swayze.  Had this been an actual operation, we would not have taken that road as our exfil.  We arrived back at the staging area just before 0800.


ISSUES

1.   Communication within the squad.  This falls on me as the PL.  There were several times when guys simply didn’t understand what was supposed to be happening or they misinterpreted the meaning.  As a PL, you need to make sure that you are very clear in what the plan is and what’s expected.
2.   Hand and Arm signals.  We are all pretty rusty on these.  We need to review and set our SOP’s within the squad and get squared away for EW.  There were too many times on our different Patrols that someone was confused on what was being said/ signed.
3.   Basic Patrolling techniques.  While we did a great job looking back and forth during movement, as we got tired, our diligence began slacking.  Guys were looking back after 20 meters or even longer at times.
4.   Compass and Point man team.  Primary compass needs to make sure they are concentrating on their job.  Leading the point mean where he needs to go.  There were several occasions this weekend where we started to veer off course due to the primary compass man not directing the point man where to go. 
5.   More unit cohesiveness.  While we are not professionals, I think we need to train more on our unit cohesiveness.  From my point of view, things just looked sloppy at times.  And don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean sloppy like a baby eating spaghetti, I mean sloppy as in “You got a little something something on your cheek right there.”  We are pretty squared away, but I think we should be better.
6.   Encrypting and Decrypting SOI.  I feel like we did well on this.  It will actually be part of the sustain section; however, halfway through the event, I essentially took over the role as the RTO.
7.   Noise discipline.  Curfman talks behind a megaphone.  Or at least you would think so… We were all guilty of slacking on the noise discipline, but when everyone is whispering and Curfman comes out of nowhere screaming at the top of his lungs to interject something (exaggeration), I wouldn’t be surprised if the folks in Columbia knew we were out there.
8.   Noise discipline.  Movement.  You are not going to be completely silent.  But there are ways to limit the amount of noise we are making as we move.  One person in our squad, straight up started butt stroking a tree with his rifle while we were only a few hundred meters away from our OBJ.  He was frustrated because he kept walking into limbs and such. Unacceptable.  We make noise no matter what, but we can do without the senseless beating of trees in the woods.  ESPECIALLY when you are about to conduct a Raid.  (I think that this is the occurrence  Z spoke of in his AAR stating that someone fell into a creek bed.  No one in our patrol fell into a creek on this mission from what I recall.  But someone did beat the piss out of a tree with the butt stock of his rifle.)

FIXES
1.   This can be fixed simply by back briefing and spending more time going over the plan and ensuring that everyone is CLEAR on what it happening before we step off.  This should always happen, but sometimes we just don’t have the time to.
2.   Easy fix.  Unit SOP ( ODJournal.com ) We all need to go do our homework.
3.   This is partly practicing it more and partly just staying mentally tough and consistent.  The time that I started to notice our techniques slacking, myself included, was when we were all beat and exhausted.  Really concentrate on staying diligent.  You never know when it’s going to save your skin.
4.   Compass and point man combination.  The only fix I can think of is to just practice this A LOT!!  It just takes time to get efficient with something like this.  There are so many things going through your mind on a patrol and you need to train yourself to filter those things and do your job effectively. 
5.   We have a handful of training events coming up.  We need to be at all of them and start working together gain more familiarity with each other.  Also, running some battle drills to see what everyone’s pace is in the drill will help us work more as a unit instead of a group of guys who know what they are doing.  (There is a difference).
6.   This is something we can practice over email, phone, texting, whatever.  But we need to get better at it.  Whoever is going to be the RTO, they need to be trained up and proficient with the SOI.  Practice, Practice, Practice.
7.   Duck tape???  Maybe..
8.   Two fixes.  Work on limiting the noise you make.  Things like shuffling you feet when the ground is covered in leaves makes more noise than if you pick up your feet when you walk.  More things to follow up on in our own unit's SOP's.  Second, keep your cool.  By the very nature of walking around in the dark, you are going to run into things you can't see.  This was the worst event for me in terms of sticks poking me and whatnot.  There were several instances where a stick went into my eye.  I have never had it happen to me before, but I straight up felt this stick go into my eye socket.  I felt it between my eye and skull.  Did it hurt?  You bet, and it scared the crap out of me because  I thought I would have permanent damage.  But I checked myself real quick, I could still see (as much as you can in the dark) out of the eye so I brushed it off and kept going.  This happened as I was moving down to the bridge to set the charges. The point is that things are going to happen to you that are out of your control.  What you can control is how you react to them.  Beating the culprit of the scratch on your face while you are trying to sneak up on an objective is not the correct reaction.  Also, as far as eye's go... Wear eye pro.  We won't have this problem at EW because we will be wearing goggles 24/7.

SUSTAINS
1.   Mission accomplishment.  We completed every Objective given to us. 
2.   Sustainability.  We had adequate rest and sustained ourselves with water resupply.
3.   Food.  Squad Ration.  Definitely a sustain.  Delicious.
4.   Being MOTO.  Everyone from my point of view maintained their motivation.  Sure it is easy to get jacked up for a RAID but we remained motivated throughout the entire weekend.
5.   Jackson in the APL role.  Jackson did a great job of making sure guys were squared away and ready to go.  Also, keeping everyone hydrated and moral high.
6.   Strong FTL’s.  While they only had one guy to lead, I saw some great mentorship by Jackson and Fitz.   Making sure that their guys were squared away and ready to go every step of the way.
7.   Spacing during the patrols.  While it is natural to have an accordion effect, I feel as though we maintain excellent spacing during our patrols.
8.   Packing our rucks/ weight distribution.  We were able to carry all of our required gear and then some.  Overall it didn’t seem like anyone was overloaded.  At least no one complained if they were.
9.   Along with #4, Ousley and Curfman did a great job picking up on things and being a part of the patrol.  They are motivated to learn and it shows because their competencies increase every event.  Keep up the good work fellas.
10.   Excellent Training events!!


MOTIVATED.

Gallion (PL)



Jackson (APL/ ATL)


Fitz (BTL)


Curfman (RTO)


Ousley
"Follow Me"

On the topic of land navigation:
"You can be the baddest kung fu ninja assault swat sniper commandos in the world and still fail if you can't get to the fight." ~A. Swayze

Operation EASTWIND
http://www.operationeastwind.com/

One Shepherd
http://1shepherd.com/