National Guard units train for militia attacks
(NewsTribune) It isn’t easy being an insurgent in Neosho, Mo. ,The long hours. The blistering heat. And, of course, constantly having to come up with new ways of harassing the Missouri National Guardsmen training in the area.Such was the case for several members of the headquarters detachment of the 229th Multifunctional Medical Battalion.
During the battalion’s annual training exercise, eight members of the Jefferson City-based unit, acting as a fictitious militant group, attempted to disrupt the battalion’s operations through attacks and harassment. The battalion’s other two units, the Kansas City-based 205th Area Support Medical Company, and the Springfieldbased 206th Area Support Medical Company, fended off the attacks while performing their medical duties.
Generally, the “militants” came in groups of two to four, said Capt. Joseph Schmitz, a member of the insurgent group. Because the training exercise was geared more toward the units’ medical duties, the attacks were rarely intense, and the militants gave up easily.
“If they shot at us at all, we were pretty happy with that,” he said.
Simulating an insurgent group involves a fair amount of acting. During a late-night scenario, Schmitz played a local townsperson with a minor shoulder injury. While waiting to be treated, Schmitz addressed everyone who passed him as “GI,” and spoke in broken English — phrases such as “You want I help, GI?” and “I am not fighter.”
On the last evening of the exercise, the militants ramped up their attacks.
At around 7:30 p.m., the group drove two Humvees up to a checkpoint and opened fire, using paintball rifles. They also threw a smoke grenade, which was used to simulate an improvised explosive device. When the medical units’ security forces fired back, rather than retreating, the militants sped forward into the units’ compound. The security team responded with gunfire and simulated grenades.
Schmitz said the battalion decided to use paintball rifles for the exercise rather than a laser-based system because it does a better job of simulating certain aspects of real combat.
“It doesn’t simulate the injury,” he said, “but it simulates the randomness of it.”
Once the attack was over, the security team and the militant group came together for an after-action review. During the review, members of both sides discussed what had gone well and what needed improvement. Following the review, the militant group retired to its headquarters, a WWII-era bunker in a remote section of the camp. There, they reloaded rifles and smoke grenades and prepared for the next attack.
In a real combat situation, Schmitz said, medical units would most likely have other soldiers on hand, such as Military Police, to provide security for them. However, it’s important for the units to be working in scenarios that are as true to life as possible.
“We’re just here to make sure they have realistic training,” he said.
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, call 1-800-GoGuard or visit www.moguard.com.