November 29, 2016 –
MCGREGOR RANGE, N.M. – Shortly after the mayor began a cordial discussion with Sgt. Ryan Hernandez and Sgt. Cesar Medina, both assigned to Company B, 410th Civil Affairs Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve, they heard a disturbance outside.
It didn’t take long for 6-foot-5, 240-pound Devon to enter the room with his buddies Juan and Stephen – and they weren’t checking to see if anyone wanted more refreshments.
Having checked their weapons at the door, Hernandez and Medina could only defend themselves with their bare hands.
As the five men began to fight, the furniture flew in all directions and eventually Hernandez and Medina, relying on their combatives training, subdued the men. That was just the beginning of the close-quarters combat training 20 Soldiers from Co. B, 410th CA Bn., received here Nov. 19.
First Lt. Colby Richardson, team chief and officer in charge of the range, Co. B, 410th CA Bn., said the training brought together roughly a year’s worth of training on specific skills.
“We’re rolling up several different METL (Mission Essential Task List) tasks that we’ve done individually that we’re going to try to do collectively in one exercise,” Richardson said. “The focus is on making it as realistic as possible.”
And realistic it was. As Hernandez and Medina’s ordeal continued, they encountered two successive challenges.
Luckily, Hernandez and Medina were able to recover their weapons outside the door, but then they met at least six hostile enemy forces in the rest of the building. Using their live M9 pistols, they shot the hostile forces – dummies in a shoot-house designed to absorb bullets – and left the building.
Outside they each found a casualty they had to evaluate, treat and carry about 50 yards to a waiting Humvee.
As they caught their breath, Medina and Hernandez had nothing but praise for the training.
“I think it’s good training, very realistic,” Medina said. “They combined different core tasks and put them together. I liked it.”
Hernandez said the training went better than he thought it would.
“It was actually really, really awesome,” Hernandez said. “I didn’t think it was going to go that well, but with a good partner and good teammates you can do whatever you put your mind to.”
Other Soldiers who participated said the training increased their confidence.
“I just thought the fluid motion from one scenario to the other was outstanding,” Sgt. Pedro Lujan said. “To be able combine all those events together in a real-life scenario was fantastic.” Sgt. Miriana Taylor said she appreciated the real-world training.
“I thought it was really solid the way they set it up, the way they had everyone engaged,” Taylor said. “This would be essentially what we would do in civil affairs. It was great.”
The Soldiers from 410th CA Bn., however, weren’t the only ones who improved their skills that day.
Devon, Juan and Stephen, the men who fought with the Soldiers, were actually Pvt. Juan Garcia, Pvt. Stephen Chaney and Pfc. Devon Tankersley, all infantry Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, who volunteered to help Staff Sgt. Ronald Ross of the Iron Training Detachment with the combatives portion of the training.
Ross instructed the infantry Soldiers not to go easy on the civil affairs Soldiers.
“The object is to be rough as possible,” Ross said. “Just a straight surprise attack and give them an opportunity to use their techniques.”
"The idea was to stress the civil affairs Soldiers before they continued," he said.
“Once they get here and they get worked over, their heart rate is up and they’re stressed,” Ross said. “Everything has gone haywire,” and they have to continue to perform.
Sgt. John Diaz, assigned to Co. B, 410th CA Bn. and the noncommissioned officer in charge of the range, said all that stress combined to make the training realistic.
“It adds to the value that you won’t normally get out of a regular M9 (qualification) range,” Diaz said. “It’s pretty unorthodox as far as the typical Army training, but the big benefit is to prepare them for things that they might see that you don’t always get to train for.”
The 410th CA Bn. falls under the 361st Civil Affairs Brigade in Pensacola, Florida, and the Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.