Updated: Jun 28
In the dynamic world of military exercises, adaptability and flexibility are key. Sometimes, last-minute changes can lead to unexpected opportunities and unique experiences. This was the case when our team found themselves deployed to New Jersey instead of Louisiana, where they were originally scheduled to train with the Maryland National Guard Special Forces. In this blog post, we will recount the exciting events and training exercises that unfolded during this impromptu deployment with the 175th Infantry Regiment of the Maryland National Guard.
Joining the 175th Infantry Regiment
Upon arriving in New Jersey, our team quickly integrated with the 175th Infantry Regiment during the final week of their Annual Training and Deployment Exercise (ADE). The regiment was preparing for their upcoming deployment to the Horn of Africa later in the year, focusing on squad (section) level live-fire training. While the sudden change prevented us from using their weapons, we had the opportunity to attend various firepower demonstrations, starting with their mortar systems.
Exploring Firepower Capabilities
The 175th Infantry Regiment showcased their arsenal, including three types of mortars: a 60mm, an 81mm (similar to what we were accustomed to), and a powerful 120mm with a similar impact to 155mm artillery. We observed hands-on demonstrations and gained valuable insights into their capabilities. On Memorial Day, the regiment paid tribute to their fallen comrades by firing a mortar salute, with each round bearing the name of a fallen soldier from the 175th. It was a solemn and poignant moment shared by the entire battalion, followed by a gathering with a traditional hog roast.
Participating in Operations
One of the highlights of our deployment was joining the regiment in a simulated high-value asset rescue operation. Our soldiers were assigned to patrols led by the scout platoon, with each of our team members embedded within different units. Our commanding officer assumed the role of the asset, while I commanded an element of the opposing force (opfor). The exercise provided an opportunity for intermingling and learning from our American counterparts.
Engaging in Obua and Live-Fire Exercises
The following day, we engaged in a day-long session of obua, a term used for urban operations training. Starting with a break-in exercise into a village, we spent hours clearing structures and refining our techniques. Initially, our soldiers operated as an independent section, impressing our hosts with their speed and aggression. As the day progressed, they were integrated into U.S. platoons, allowing them to closely observe American methods and tactics.
Later, we joined D Company on the ranges, where they qualified on the 40mm grenade launcher and operated the vehicle-mounted CROW .50 caliber machine guns. Our team received valuable lessons on the CROW system and had the chance to operate the optics. The highlight of the day came when A Company conducted a heliborne air assault on the obua village. Although our air clearance was canceled, we joined them on the landing zone and integrated with U.S. platoons for a night assault. Our team's swift and aggressive house-clearing tactics drew the attention and admiration of the brigade commander.
Final Training and Explosive Demolitions
As the ADE neared its conclusion, we observed squad-level live firing with the SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) on the ranges. The training then transitioned to the woods, where we witnessed up-close and personal claymore mine demonstrations—a subject of great interest to our explosive ordnance specialists.
To conclude the exercise, the Pennsylvania National Guard's equivalents to our assault pioneer (AP) gave an impressive demolition demonstration. They initiated a shaped charge, followed by a 40lb/18kg cratering charge.