Manhatton: Urban Combat Training with 4th Brigade - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

11/06/07

Manhatton: Urban Combat Training with 4th Brigade

Our Mike Manhatton is in Kuwait covering the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the Third Infantry Division as they train for service on the front lines. Mike will be bringing you their stories on THE News, but in the meantime, he was able to email us this update.

Not exactly an episode of Cops, but you get the idea. Serving in Iraq, our Third Infantry Division soldiers spend a lot of time on the streets, and in neighborhoods. Unfortunately in a lot of cases, the street isn't where the action stops.

Training in Camp Buehring, the soldiers refine their basic skills of entering and clearing buildings, with an element you might not expect. A question. Do we really have to go in? Think about it. They're on patrol, spot an insurgent, someone with a weapon, or just someone acting suspiciously. The person heads for a home. His home or not, the soldiers want to find out who he is and what's going on. If there's a weapon involved, or gunfire, or what the cops call a "hot pursuit," the soldiers will likely follow right on in.

But they have to be extremely cautious for a couple reasons. The first, most obvious is safety. Was the suspicious person really running away? Did they want to be seen running away? If so, they could be trying to lure the troops into the building, and a potentially deadly trap. Not unheard of in Iraq. In some cases, the insurgents even booby trap the buildings, setting up improvised explosive devices in homes and businesses. Even deadlier than their counterparts on the street, since the soldiers are walking in with only the usual protective vests and Kevlars (helmets). Not a multi-ton armored Humvee or Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

So the smart soldier, the one most likely to survive, stops and thinks before storming the building. Maybe even calling in to higher-ups for direction or backup. Imagine the SWAT team answering this call.

If they do decide to go in, it's a complicated ballet in body armor. They break up into teams. Somebody has to stand guard on the street, so no one sneaks up on them. Soldiers on the corners, around the building, heads on swivels watching everything from the windows nearby to rooftops overhead.

The entry team or teams line up, each with a job. A soldier to get the door, the first in to take an angle, a second clearing another corner of the room, while those following on watch above and beyond.

Did I mention someone might be shooting at them?

Think about it. Consider walking into a home or business you've never been to, strange sights and sounds, maybe no lights in the room, furniture and walls and stairways in places you don't expect. For us civilians it's challenging. For 4th Brigade Combat Team soldiers, it's a potentially life-or-death decision every few seconds.

Reported by: Mike Manhatton, mmanhatton@wtoc.com

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