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For the Soldiers of Merrills Marauders Platoon, 5th Ranger Training Battalion, Aug. 5-8 provided them with an opportunity to brush up on Soldier skills during a training exercise at Catoosa Training Facility near Ringgold, Ga.
Since we dont get to get out here often, every skill that we practice in the military is perishable, said 1st Lt. Terry Battison, the platoon leader. By getting out here, were refining the skills they already have and dusting the cobwebs off. We have a bunch of guys that come straight from basic training to here, so they havent done much of this. Were getting them in and letting them see how squad operations and platoon operations work. Staff Sgt. Nicholas Fenton, 3rd squads leader, said the training at CTF would help ensure Rangers stay ready for their next assignment.
We get to do a lot of day-to-day small tasks ... but its all extremely limited, Fenton said. Once a year, we get to come out here and do the best we can to get these Soldiers to the level they need to be so that when they do rotate out of here they can go to another unit and drop right in to where that unit needs them to be.
The biggest problem is if a Soldier comes here right out of basic training and he does three years here and doesnt get to do a lot of the things available to a regular unit, he can be limited when he shows up. After arriving via helicopter at CTF Aug. 5, the Soldiers headed to the range for safety briefings and qualifications for both day and night operations.
The second day at CTF focused on activities that were intended to serve as refreshers for the platoon, such as evaluating a potential casualty and providing treatment for the casualty, an overview of radio procedures and situation reports, a test of weapon functions and controlled rates of fire, a rope bridge competition and finally, a test of squad and fire team movements.
For the casualty portion of Day 2, squads were tasked with moving to two simulated casualties, setting up security around the casualties and then moving the casualty into cover.
Once under cover, Soldiers were asked to administer first aid, including inserting an IV into a live Soldier role playing as a casualty.
Staff Sgt. Keith Platt, 2nd Squads leader, served as the volunteer casualty for his squad.
The steps are exactly the same as if you were going to administer an IV to a casualty, he said. It refreshes the memory on all the steps that are involved. Its a very simple process, but if you dont do it that often, you can get out of practice and could severely injure someone.
After the training aspects of Day 2 were at an end, the Soldiers came together to indulge their competitive nature in a rope bridge competition.
The finals came down to a showdown between Platts 2nd Squad and Fentons 3rd Squad, with 2nd Squad winning a tight race.
Fenton said his squad had a more difficult lane to complete in the final race, and he was proud that his squad was able to make it as close as it was.
2nd Squad was on a lane that was substantially shorter than mine, and it came down to a photo finish, Fenton said. My guys were pretty upset, but the fact that we were handicapped and we still brought it down to a photo finish was great. They were eventually able to see the brighter side and see that we held our own.
Platt said he was happy his squad came through with the victory, but said 3rd Squad had nothing to be ashamed of.
It was a very close race and I have to give them credit, Platt said. It was a neck-and-neck race and they had the harder lane, so that just goes to show the capabilities of that squad. They were able to take a harder problem set and nearly accomplish the same outcome.