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3rd ID exercises foundation

The Army calls the squad “the foundation of decisive force” and “the cornerstone of all units,” as noted in its 2012 posture statement.

The infantry squad is the cornerstone of the 3rd ID’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which has two battalions that consist of companies made up of infantry platoons made up of rifle squads and a weapons squad.

This week, infantry platoons from the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment’s “China” Battalion conducted maneuvers to test the decision-making skills of the platoon leader, along with his squad leaders and team leaders, and the resilience of each soldier.

“Today, what we’re focusing on is maneuvering, which comes down to firing while moving closer to the enemy that’s firing on us,” 2nd Lt. Scott Forsythe said.

Forsythe admitted that Wednesday was only his sixth day as a team leader. Since he came on active duty a year ago, he’s completed the infantry officer’s basic course, Airborne School and Ranger School. This was his first opportunity to work with his noncommissioned officers and soldiers.

One of his squad leaders, Staff Sgt. James Robertson, said he was ready to work with his new platoon leader as he already had gone through “dry-fire” exercises.

Cpl. Anthony Soumas, one of Robertson’s fire-team leaders, also was confident in his new platoon and squad leader. He said his fire team would lead the squad, which would lead the platoon during the live-fire exercise. In addition to responding to commands from his squad leader when his team was the “bounding element,” he had to ensure there were no holes in the perimeter while also making sure each of his soldiers had plenty of ammunition and their sensitive equipment.

As the platoon began moving forward with Robertson’s squad leading the way, the sound of machine-gun fire from a simulated gun to their right front sent everyone into the prone position.

Commands from Robertson and Forsythe sent one fire team bounding around to the left of firing, while the other stayed in the position to provide suppressing fire. The bounding element moved forward to get a better vantage point on the enemy, and then took up hasty positions and suppressed fire while the other team moved forward.

Soon, the target was eliminated. The machine gun, a grenade launcher and AK-47 were found at the enemy position to give more realism to the exercise.

During the next movement to contact, a larger force attacking the lead squad required support from an additional squad to destroy the enemy. At one point, fire from a vehicle called for fire support from the unit’s 60mm mortar platoon. Section leader Sgt. Bryan Daniel and squad leader Pfc. Alexander Caldwell said they “laid in” on the target the day before.

The final objective required the entire platoon to maneuver onto the target with suppressing fire provided by the two M240 machine guns from the weapons squad. The sound of these guns, along with nearly 30 M4 assault rifles firing, was intense.

Clouds of smoke and dust rose from enemy positions 500 meters to their front.

During the after-action review in the briefing room, Command Sgt. Major Roger Parker commended the platoon for its cohesiveness and communication. Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Joel Smith said there still was room for improvement, but the platoon had improved its performance during live fire from the blank-fire run.

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