By Jonathan LeBlanc, Fort Bliss Bugle Staff:
(El Paso, Texas, Dec. 7, 2017)
The 204th Military Intelligence Battalion spent the better half of Nov. 30 at American Eagle Paintball in El Paso conducting room clearing exercises, force-on-force simulations and small team maneuvering.
First Sgt. Sunnydale Hyde, first sergeant, Company B, 204th MI Bn., said the training, the second part of a three-part series, was all about readiness.
“We want our Soldiers to be ready for any future deployments and contingency operations,” Hyde said. “We had put together a three-part training plan. The first phase, we brought out a small number of personnel to go over the basics and fundamentals. For this phase, we have basically made a souped up version of the first phase. For the last phase we will bring the Soldiers out to a realistic field environment.”
The unit is not considered a tactical unit, but often they find themselves attached to tactical units.
“We need our Soldiers to be able and ready to plug and play,” Hyde said. “We are not a tactical unit or a strategic one. We are a mixture of both, and since we are attached in support of these types of elements, our Soldiers need to have all of these skills to go out into these environments.”
More often than not, Soldiers train on electronic simulation equipment commonly referred to as MILES gear – MILES standing for Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System. The leadership at the unit, however, took a more realistic approach to the training by bringing them to the paintball course.
“It’s a much more realistic experience when they are getting hit,” Hyde said. “It forces them to think and ask questions like, ‘So, are my feet exposed?’ which we don’t often think about. (They also might think) ‘I can’t hide behind a small brush pad somewhere,’ because the danger of being hit becomes more apparent.”
Hyde said he wants to ensure his Soldiers understand they are warriors first even though they are intelligence professionals.
“It’s easy for Soldiers to forget they are warriors first, even if they are not combat arms. Instilling the warrior ethos from the Soldier’s Creed and conducting realistic training keeps that warrior mentally present in the Soldiers,” Hyde said.
It is important for all Soldiers to understand these core values and basic Soldiering skills no matter their occupational specialty.
Pvt. Kamarr Long, a geospatial imagery analyst assigned to the 204th MI Bn., has only been with the unit for roughly six months, but he sees the benefits of the training.
“I love coming out because the simulations gets us in to the mind set of what it could really be like when we go down range,” Long said. “It’s nice to come out to practice our drills, and above all, stay ready.”
For Long, this was the first time conducting this type of training.
“We could deploy at any time,” Long said. “There is a stigma about the intel guys that we might not be down in the field, but it could happen to anyone of us. We could be attached to tactical unit and we need to stay ready.”