By SSG Andrew Dickson.
Soldiers of the 617th Military Police Company, the Ravens, earned extensive training with the 3rd Special Forces Group while at mobilization station located at Camp Oro Grande near Fort Bliss, Texas during the last three weeks of March 2020.
The unit departed Kentucky for Fort Bliss in January, however, with one week of training left, their mission to the Middle East was changed so they could support other needs of the Army.
“The Ravens stood out to the 5th Armored Brigade by excelling at all First Army training. Training included area security, patrols, entry control points, and use of individual and crew serve weapons,” said First Sgt. Timothy Nein, their senior enlisted leader. The 5th Armored Brigade recommended them for more advanced training and mission opportunities. “We were mentioned five times in five different areas within three months for missions that only the 617th were fully prepared to do.”
The unit was selected to partner with the 3rd Special Forces Group who were set to deploy on a mission overseas to train foreign soldiers. The MPs’ job was to play the role of the foreign soldiers and train with the Special Forces Group for combat operations.
The 617th received three full weeks of vigorous training that focused on squad level Individual Movement Training, Close Quarters Marksmanship, and Close Quarter Battle. Sgt. Dylan Smith, a team leader, said, “They reinforced the basic soldier skills we learned at drill, but they taught us more skills to make our standard operating procedures more efficient.”
The unit would take part in training in squads on movement to their objective and how to move while taking direct enemy contact. Squads would also train in Close Quarter Marksmanship on a live-fire range committing weapon failure drills and quick weapons draws to muscle memory. At the end of the week, the squads would practice room clearance procedures on glass houses and move up to full rooms. After each set, they would conduct an after action review and learn more efficient techniques from the Special Forces Group.
Even for their platoon sergeant, Sgt. First Class Colin Ruedger, each day they learned something new. Ruedger is a certified instructor with Kentucky’s Small Arms Readiness Training Section and has competed in the adjutant general’s shooting competitions.
“As the Special Forces Group’s partner force, they are training us more than just the basics. We got more advanced techniques with Close Quarter Marksmanship and Close Quarter Battle that proved to be more effective than the way we were trained.” Ruedger also learned more aggressive weapon platforming that steadies his aim from more positions and refined his skills at room clearing.
In the next two weeks that followed, the 617th conducted realistic urban operation training that began at the squad level and evolved to a company-wide operation towards the end. Each mission would begin with the squad leader briefing their soldiers using sand tables and large scale rehearsals of battle drills. According to Staff Sgt. Kenneth Roberts, a squad leader with the 617th, the squad level leadership is the big difference between his past experience in the military and this training.
“In the past, we really focused on our own squad’s role,” Roberts said. “Here, the squad leader knows all aspects of the mission. We were taught that the mission planning process is critical to accomplishing the mission. Squad leaders are expected to be fluid, flexible, and the most important part of the decision-making process.”
The final mission with the 3rd Special Forces Group was a company level night operation in which the company, armed with simulated ammunition, smoke and pyrotechnic grenades, was flown in on CH-47 Chinook helicopters, conducted squad movement techniques for three kilometers, and entered a 40 building village for intel and high valued targets.
The Soldiers encountered and successfully reacted to improvised explosive devices, small arms fire, and complex attacks from more than 50 armed role players. After clearing a three-story building and adjacent rooftops, their mission came to an end well after midnight. Even though the Special Forces Group trained them for the mission, the Raven’s success was their own.
“This mission was run by the Ravens. 3rd Special Forces Group was there to drive the mission with their expertise,” said Nein. “Most of the squad leaders did part of the execution brief for the mission. Almost all were recognized for their briefing skills. The Special Forces Group told us they normally don’t allow the student Soldiers to brief such a complex mission.”
For Soldiers like Spc. Alex Rauh, the skills he learned during this training taught him that there are many different ways to accomplish the same mission, building upon the foundations the Ravens taught him. “I would do it again, it was absolutely fantastic,” said Rauh. “This was the best training I have had in the Army National Guard.”
Story: This article is a repost of “Kentucky MPs receive unique training from Special Forces Group”, by Staff Sergeant Andrew Dickson, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, posted on DVIDS May 5, 2020.
“Kentucky Guardsmen Set to Deploy”, DVIDS, January 7, 2020. The 167th Military Police Company is set to deploy in support of Operation Spartan Shield supporting operations in the Middle East. The National Guard unit has deployed twice before since 2001. Previous deployments included Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
“Raven 42”, Army National Guard. During OIF an element of the 167th MP Company engaged in a fierce firefight with insurgents. At the end of the engagement 24 insurgents were dead, 9 wounded, and one captured. One NCO was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Two members of the element were awarded Silver Stars. One of the Silver Stars was awarded to SSG Nein – the first to be awarded to a woman for valor in combat. The picture above – entitled “Raven 42” is by James Dietz.
Photo: Soldiers of the 617th Military Police Company receive extensive training with the 3rd Special Forces Group at Camp Oro Grande near Fort Bliss, Texas in March 2020. (Photo courtesy of Third Special Forces Group).