March 19, 2017 –
McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. – Hidden in the tree line or protected by buildings in a mock village, Soldiers assigned to the 363rd Military Police Company were armed and ready to attack. They didn’t have the numbers, but they definitely had the drive as they engaged in several battles against the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
The first battle took place on March 13, 2017, after Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division seized Lakehurst Maxfield Field during a multi-component airfield seizure training exercise. Acting as the enemy force, the 363rd MPs patiently waited to attack, hidden deep within the thick brush. Once the Screaming Eagles entered their line of sight, they began to attack using individual and crew-served weapons. The military police Soldiers put up an arduous fight in order to provide training support to Easy Company.
This battle was one of three separate encounters the two units had at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, during the Army Reserve’s Warrior Exercise 78-17-01. The Army Reserve’s 84th Training Command develops each WAREX as a large-scale training event specifically designed to assess a units’ combat capabilities.
During the next few days, the 363rd MP Co. got the opportunity to see what the fight looks like from a different perspective.
“Portraying the oppositional force gives us the opportunity to see things that the conventional fighting force does well, or see the things they could improve on,” said 1st Lt. Nick Sander, a platoon leader for the 363rd MP Co. “Seeing them train gives us ideas on what we can train on, or improve on so that we can be combat ready.”
The two units met again on March 15, 2017, during nighttime operations. The mission of the Screaming Eagles was to clear a mock village and set up security to spend the night. It seemed like a simple task for Easy Company. However, the military police didn’t care that the temperatures were below freezing that night. They weren’t going down without a fight.
By setting up an effective defense, the military police not only got the opportunity to rehearse their combat tactics, they also got to help validate their active duty counterparts as the Army’s Global Response Force.
Master Sgt. Mike Dipetta, assigned to the 78th Training Division, said multi-component operations like this are important because Army forces need to act together as a cohesive team.
“The joint training brings the active duty and the reserve together. It brings the different military occupation specialties together, and it brings people from all over the country together to work as one, which is what happens when you are mobilized or deployed,” Dipetta said.
During the operations, Dipetta served as the noncommissioned officer in charge for the opposing force, also known as OPFOR.
During their final encounter on March 16, 2017, Soldiers from Easy Company split up into three separate teams and trekked 2.5 miles through the dense wood line to reach their destination. Once on site, they ambushed the OPFOR and hastily raided the village to locate a simulated bomb and disarm it. Like before, the OPFOR was ready to fight. Using strategically placed semi-automatic weapons, they forced the infantry unit to carefully plan their attack.
The well thought out OPFOR plans not only created realistic scenarios against the 101st Airborne Division, but they also brought the Army Reserve unit one step closer to being a capable, combat-ready, lethal force.