FORT BRAGG, N.C., Sept. 19, 2006 – Imagine you’re in a street fight. Would you rather trade haymakers with your opponent, or deliver one precise, perfectly-timed knockout punch that catches him when he’s not looking?
Mounted Cavalry units give their commanders the tools to deliver that perfect K.O., said Lt. Col. J. Ross Davidson, commander of the 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
“They’re the hunters. They seek out and find the enemy and they gather information about the battlefield for the brigade commander,” Davidson said.
Davidson’s squadron honed their techniques with live-fire, mounted and dismounted tactical training at OP 13 during 2nd Brigade Combat Team’s week-long Field Training Exercise Sept. 6 - 13.
Nine months ago, the 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment didn’t exist. It was activated in January when the 2nd Brigade was reorganized into a Brigade Combat Team.
The addition of a Mounted Cavalry unit gave the brigade commander reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition capabilities that were previously available only at a division or higher level.
“Overnight, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team went from zero recon assets to an entire squadron,” Davidson said.
The squadron combines the reconnaissance capabilities of a long range surveillance unit with the firepower of a heavy weapons company.
Each motorized reconnaissance platoon consists of six Humvees equipped with high-end communications technology, multiple long-range surveillance devices, and an array of weapons systems including MK-19s, Javelins, Tow Missile launchers, and .50 caliber machine guns.
“One platoon has more firepower than an entire anti-tank company,” Davidson said.
The vehicles are also equipped with an imaging device called the Long Range Acquisition System. The LRAS, which is mounted on the roof of the vehicle and powered by a generator inside, allows users to identify targets from up to 10 kilometers away.
“It’s kind of like having super-powered binoculars,” said Pfc. Bevin Schank, a turret gunner with A Troop.
Operating in two-vehicle sections, the motorized reconnaissance platoons can either gather information on enemy targets and return unnoticed, or decisively engage and destroy them, Davidson said.
While some of the squadron’s motorized recon capabilities were on display during the field training exercise, the real focus was on small unit battle drills.
With the possibility of a deployment always just around the corner, ensuring proficiency at “door kicker” techniques is top priority, said squad leader Staff Sgt. Larry Medrano.
“We’re concentrating on real world scenarios. (The soldiers) need to go away confident that they’re going to be able to accomplish any mission using these tactics,” Medrano said.