May 29, 2012 —
Kuwaiti National Guard counter-terrorism soldiers move down a hallway during an exercise near Kuwait City, Kuwait, May 16, 2012. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Drumsta, 4th Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment)
KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait (May 29, 2012) — Partnership meant opposition for some United States Army National Guard and Kuwaiti National Guard troops during an exercise here recently.
That’s why Soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment became the opposing force, known as the OPFOR, for Kuwaiti National Guard, or KNG, mechanized and counter-terrorism troops, May 16. At a lone building on a desert ridge, eight Soldiers of the battalion’s Alpha Company played terrorists, capturing the building as part of the KNG’s culminating annual exercise.
Along with recapturing the building, the KNG troops impressed the 4th Battalion Soldiers.
“They did really well,” said Spc. Randall Adkins, of Fort Wayne, Ind. “You can tell they trained hard and really well.”
In addition to taking over security-force operations in northern Kuwait in April, the battalion, which belongs to the South Carolina Army National Guard, also assumed a training partnership with the KNG – one of the region’s best led, trained, and equipped military organizations.
By playing OPFOR, the 4th Battalion troops helped validate the KNG’s training, including their ability to take down terrorists by fire and maneuver, and treat wounded personnel.
The eight Soldiers worked with the KNG the day before to prepare for the exercise. It was a great opportunity for the newer troops to experience a different culture and see up close how another army operates, said Sgt. Jeremy Kelly, who led the group.
Kelly said he was excited about the mission, adding that they compared building-entry techniques, like the formation known as the “stack” or “stacking.”
“We picked up some things, and we showed them some things,” recalled Kelly, who hails from the James Island area of South Carolina. “I feel totally comfortable training with the Kuwaitis.”
The real show began the next morning when the South Carolina troops – incongruously clad in Army Camouflage Uniform trousers, head scarves, and t-shirts – assaulted the tower gate with two armored humvees, rolled up the ridge, occupied the building and set up defensive positions.
Not long after that, the 4th Battalion troops found themselves in the crosshairs of a Kuwaiti mechanized Infantry company that surrounded the building and began engaging them with weapons from their Pandar and Panhard armored vehicles.
It was a textbook engagement, said Kelly, who recalled being targeted and quickly outgunned by three of the vehicles.
“They had excellent security around the perimeter,” said Pfc. Jamaal Brooks, a gunner and Afghan veteran from Columbia, S.C. “They were aggressive. They knew what they were doing.”
Once the OPFOR gun trucks were deemed destroyed, the Kuwaiti armored vehicles quickly moved closer to the building, allowing about a half-dozen KNG counter-terrorism troops – dressed in black uniforms and masks – to slip into the building.
Moving swiftly up and down the halls and deftly stacking on doors and corners, the counter-terrorism troops engaged what remained of the faux-terrorists and re-took the building, suffering one simulated casualty. Just as quickly, Kuwaiti medical troops arrived on the scene to treat and evacuate the casualty.
Adkins said he was surprised at how quickly everything occurred.
“They entered the room with speed and violence of action,” he said.
The 4th Battalion anticipates future training events with the KNG. Brooks, for one, is looking forward to training with them again, but he wants to reverse roles next time.
“They did a damn good job, so I’m anxious to get in there and do our thing,” he said, smiling.