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National Guard officer candidates work on urban battlefield tactics
National Guard officer candidates work on urban battlefield tactics

Officer Candidate Caleb Keltner, right, checks a door for traps while Richard Branson backs him up in room-clearing exercises during the Missouri National Guard's officer candidate class, conducted by the 140th Regimental Training Institute.
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (May 8, 2009) — Battlefield tactics are an important part of the training of all Missouri National Guard officers, since they must know how to move troops in the field.

Ten soldiers in the Missouri National Guard’s Officer Candidate Class 47 of the 2nd Battalion of the 140th Regiment Missouri Regional Training Institute recently went through instruction on proper troop movements in an urban setting during their monthly drill weekend. It is the first full weekend since they became senior officer candidates and their first in the field exercise portion of the course.

The instruction included conducting an ambush, reacting to an ambush, entering and clearing a building, performing voice communication, reacting to direct and indirect fire, selecting temporary fighting positions, reacting to an improvised explosive device, conducting a raid and looking for the enemy, said Capt. Juan Valencia, classroom instructor.

“There are a lot of tasks in these battle drills that we hope they will, if they haven’t seen it before, do it for the very first time,” Valencia said. “This is the crawling phase, so it’s kind of slow going through the class performing the tasks.”

Communication and teamwork are critical to the class’s success, Valencia said.

“As they progress, they are going to start going a little faster and acting more as a unit instead of individuals,” Valencia said. “They are going to be paying attention to somebody else to tell them what to do and they are going to be a little bit slow, a little bit confused, waiting for a command. Then as they progress, they are going to do that all on their own, automatically. That’s the goal.”

The class on basic room clearing techniques was led by one of its own, Officer Candidate Christopher Tompkins of Springfield.

“In the battlefields we find ourselves in today, we tend to fight more in an urban environment so it makes it critical that we are able to find the enemy or find our objective,” Tompkins said.

Tompkins said he didn’t hold any prior expertise in room clearing exercises, but, as part of the class, had to brush up on the subject.

“I had gone through it before, but it’s been a while,” Tompkins said. “A lot of things have changed as far as how doctrinally things are accomplished versus unit standard operating procedures.”

Each member of the class will lead their classmates through some type of instruction as part of the course, he said.

When he went through officer candidate school, Valencia said, urban warfare tactics were not stressed.

“Since that seems to be some of the priorities of combat that we have now, we put emphasis on that,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll get some good training this week.”

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