Spring 2020 Shimbun update
I continue to be humbled and amazed by all of the things the Rakksans continue to do to protect this nation. During the late fall and early winter the Rakkasans remain focused on building readiness, preparation for the War Fighter Exercise 20-01, and planning for both Regionally Aligned Forces and operations in support of Customs and Border Protection on the southwest border. In addition to focusing on WFX 20-01, Rakkasans across the formation also executed multiple ranges to enhance readiness and lethality.
For the month of October White Currahee conducted squad live fire exercises as they build toward a platoon live fire designed to certify their remaining platoons to conduct emergency deployment operations in support of contingency operations in Africa. White Currahee also conducted various range density qualification ranges with the Red Knights. White Currahee’s Easy Company, currently deployed in Djibouti, executed another Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise (EDRE) sequence in order to remain ready to provide the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) with a rapid reaction force capable of responding to a wide range of contingencies across the African continent. Seven Soldiers from Team Easy earned their Expert Infantry Badges (EIBs) while supporting the East African Response Force mission in Djibouti. Members of Team Easy also provided graders to facilitate the event hosted by their National Guard partnered unit. White Currahee and the Red Knights conducted various range density qualification ranges. White Currahee’s mortar and fire support teams also participated in Mortar Gunnery tables IV-V; while Dog Company and the battalion (BN) tactical air command (TAC) conducted a platoon (PLT) situational training exercise (STX) training event that included an Air Assault and the integration of Solid Battalion’s Shadow Unmanned Aircraft System platoon. Solid Battalion conducted Sapper Stakes to hone individual sapper and air assault skills to start off the quarter.
Leader Battalion focused training effort on conducting partnered operations with 5th Special Forces Group (SFG) while also assuming responsibility for both Eagle Guard and Blue Grass Army Depot response forces. The training included a Company minus air assault, engagement area development, force on force maneuver, and air to ground integration with AH (Attack Helicopter)-64s and Gray Eagles. Crusher Company from Leader Battalion (BN) conducted a company Air Assault from Fort Campbell, KY (FCKY) to Fort Knox, KY, (FKKY) incorporating a no-notice Deployment Readiness Exercise to gain additional training value. The Battalion’s TAC provided airborne command and control and provided operations and intelligence updates via frequency modulation to the company following consolidation on the Landing Zone at FKKY.
Iron Rakkasans also executed a week long PT competition that physically challenged their Soldiers and leaders through a series of physical and mental events each day.
War Rakkasans hosted 1-75 CAV from Strike for a Cavalry Day Event, providing an opportunity for both Squadrons to compete in multiple events to build esprit de corps across their formations. They also, conducted a Squadron mortar training and evaluation planning (MORTEP) for its 60 millimeter and 120 millimeter mortars.
Assurgam’s A Company, 626th Brigade Support Battalion (BSB) earned recognition from the United States Army Forces Command Supply Excellence Award Program as the Calendar Year 19/20 best Army Supply Support Activity.
The brigade took pride in hosing a visit from ESPN, offering the Rakkasans a chance to highlight our warrior athletes and our focus on combat fitness. Lastly, Most of the Battalions hosted trunk or treat events and the brigade hosted a Rakkasan (RAK) Organization (ORG) day to build esprit de corps among Soldiers and families. The Brigade also hosted a RAK sale featuring battalion and brigade Rakkasan products in order to provide Soldiers and families the opportunity to buy gifts for the holiday season and to support the Soldier Family Readiness Group (SFRG).
In November Iron Rakkasans continued the planning process for a heavy pickup zone air assault in support of Dragon Company’s (CO) training event. The training event will certify Hooker Teams in accordance with 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Gold Book requirements for Crusher CO PLT STX and PLT Live Fire Exercise (LFX); An additional coordination with a partnered unit from the 1-101st Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) and 325th Psychological Operations Company (PSYOP) from Nashville provided AWT support.
White Currahee Soldiers of Team Easy passed an initial assessment to the French Desert Commando Course (FDCC). The company executed a self-defense course with the French Army and Japanese Self-Defense Force. White Currahee also completed a successful partnered training event with 2-160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), 2-160th JMD at Little Rock, Arkansas and CAID by providing Opposing Force (OPFOR) support. Team Fox of White Currahee executed M4 table I, EFR, and the Ranger Academy. Team Whiskey in Bizerte hosted Maj. Gen. Cloutier as he visited the Sidi Ahmed Airbase (SAAB). Maj. Gen. Cloutier recognized twelve Soldiers from the task force and presented USARAF Commander’s Coins.
Solid Rakkasans Comanche was endorsed by Eagle 6 as the best Management Information Control Office (MICO) in United States Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). The endorsement packet was sent up to XVIII Airborne Corps for the Maj. Gen. Oliver Dillard Award. Solid Rakkasan’s Delta Company Human Intelligence (HUMINT) section participated in Titan Odyssey 20 at Camp Bullis, Texas, validating their HUMINT Expeditionary Team. Additionally, the companies MF Platoon Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) Section sent one Low Voice Intercept (LLVI) team to participate in 2nd Brigade Combat Team’s (BCTs) Management Information Officer (MICO) Field Training Exercise (FTX).
Assurgam Rakkasans Charlie Company Non-commissioned Officers (NCOs) and Soldiers continued to lead the way with the EFMB train-up for 40 candidates across the Brigade (BDE). The division (DIV) inspected various sections of the BDE and BNs/SQDN for the Initial Command Inspection. The inspection allowed the BDE and BNs/SQDN components to utilize the Training and evaluation Online (T&EO) checklist in order to (IOT) increase or sustain training readiness and prepared for BN Change of Responsibility 12 November 2019. Based on the leadership focus of the Assurgam Battalion during our Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB) preparation, we anticipated significantly increased success rates from our last EFMB iteration. Additionally Assurgam Rakkasans executed a Maintenance Terrain Walk with Col. (P) Gill, highlighting key infrastructure and specialty shops that support the entire Rakkasan brigade (BDE). Assurgam Rakkasan leaders, including Forward Support Company (FSC) leadership, will conduct an LPD at the Walmart Distribution Center in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, to discuss multi-model distribution operations and to highlight the similarities and differences between military and civilian supply distribution operations.
Leader Rakkasans continued their effort of the BN pre-Air Assault program focusing on layout deficiencies. While, Leader and White Currahee participated in the Night Vision Train the Trainer course coordinated with Presscheck Consulting, LLC. Leader Rakkasan’s Crusher Company conducted a Deployment Readiness Exercise that led into a 36-hour Company FTX. The exercise consisted of an attack on Cassidy MOUT and an Air Assault that was supported by A Company 5-101 and C Company 2-17 ARS. Bulldog Company conducted M4 qualification training in preparation for PLT LFXs and concurrent training on breaching with the M500 and continued to build lethality by preparing for a PLT STX with a COMMEX and Company Air Assault rehearsal (RXL).
Across the BDE, Rakkasans continued to identify and turn-in excess containers and equipment while consolidating containers to facilitate efficient out-load procedures in support of Operation Eagle Sweep while later in the month the Rakkasan BDE and BNs/SQDN Command Teams served Soldier’s during the annual Thanksgiving Meal at the Rakkasan DFAC.
The BDE conducted a four mile run to stress the importance of physical fitness and espirit de corps early December. The Leader Rakkasan’s Bulldog and Crusher Companies executed a PLT STX, beginning with an alert and assemble at 0200 ISO Eagle Guard readiness, while Dragon Company executed a company Air Assault. The company with support from Workhorse Company, validated heavy PZ operations and slung two HMMWVs for the exercise. The BN 81mm and 120mm mortars, along with AWT from B Company 1-101 CAB and a section from the 325th PSYOPs, provided additional support for the PLT STX. Leader Rakkasans conducted the BN’s first Quarterly Leader Assessment, focused on individual PLT TRDs with T&EO based grading rubrics from the PLT LFXs Operations Orders (OPORDs) and execution. Leader Rakkasans also executed two LPDs, one focused on “Life of a 5988-E” and the second, on “Fitness Mindset”. However, Leader Rakkasans identified an alternate period of leave for personnel on coverage ISO EGAD/BGAD. Leader Rakkasan’s, Havoc mortars, continue to train for Eagle Guard Deployment and prep for pack-out ISO Operation African Lion.
White Currahee Rakkasan’s, Team Whiskey Capt. Bless and 1st Sgt. Kramer, visited the US Embassy, IOT to discuss establishing a program between TF Whiskey and the Tunisian Military. The program taught the basics of Air Assault staff planning and how to plan an Air Assault operation; the culminating event of the Tunisian Air Assault LFX. Furthermore, Team Easy’s 1st PLT executed a TM STX, while the Scouts executed Sniper ops at the Arta Range Complex.
Approximately 250 Solid Rakkasan Soldiers and family members (as well as a few kids and pets) conducted a 5K holiday ruck march and toy drive. The event was a success due to Solid D CO's planning and initiative. Reports are that Solid collected about 175 toys for distribution to Rak Solid families and those of the surrounding community in need of a little help this season. The first sergeants distributed the gifts to the identified Soldiers or families. One of our fine young leaders, 2nd Lt. Odle, who organized the event, transported the remainder to the Salvation Army in Clarksville to assist our community partners during Christmas. Solid Rakkasan’s, IC Platoon continues operations by segmenting HBL IOT continue intelligence production for RAF and OSG operations.
Assurgam Rakkasan’s, Charlie Company conducted pig jaw training led by the Rakkasan’s Dentist, Capt. Dawson. The training provided realistic medical training including oral procedures and suturing IOT prepare Soldiers for emergency dental situations. Red Knights and Assurgam Rakkasans personnel finalized administrative preparation to support the Battalion Commander’s Assessment Program (BCAP) at FT. Knox. Also, the Assurgam Master Driver hosted a Driver’s Training course by conducting PH I-III for several Soldiers. Assurgam Rakkasans not taking block leave continue supporting requirements during this period by focusing on cleanliness around the SSA, maintenance, services due in January, staff functions for the BN, and DFAC operations for the BDE. Assurgam led the BDE effort for Operation Clean Eagle while supporting Division Excess Collection Point operations.
A Security and MASCAL rehearsal was conducted involving two OPFOR insider threats who infiltrated the camp’s walls, requiring security personnel to systematically clear CL Bizerte LSA. Additionally, Eagle 6 and Eagle 7 visited Sidi Ahmed Air Base (SAAB) and Senior Colonel Jamili. Four Soldiers were recognized with a Commander’s coin. With that being said, all EIB candidates completed the final train-up week and begin testing for the EIB and we laterally promoted and said farewell of our former BDE Operations (OPS) sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Michael T. Jordan to command sergeant major. Command Sgt. Maj. Jordan departed to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to assume his duties as a BN command sergeant major. We had Seven outstanding Rakkasans earned the coveted EIB. Many thanks to Bastogne and Strike for allowing us to participate in their world class EIB program.
In January Leader Rakkasans personnel assigned to EGAD/BGAD prepared vehicles for African Lion to set conditions for the inspections in training week 15. In addition, Leader Rakkasans continued to complete passport applications in preparation for deployment. Leader Rakkasans transferred responsibility of EGAD/BGAD to 1BCT on 08 January 2020. Leader also maintained focus on preparation for African Lion 20 with equipment/vehicle outload. Soldiers from Leader BN began their offset block leave after completing their EGAD/BGAD requirement through the holiday leave period. Leader executed the first phase of a BN FTX with a Scout insertion 24 hrs before main body while Bulldog and Crusher Companies executed a simultaneous attack on the objectives. Both companies were tested on CASEVAC and the medical platoon’s MEDEVAC procedures with support from C/626 BSB. Leader then conducted a BN Air Assault during the FTX with support from 2-327 IN as the OPFOR.
Assurgam Rakkasan’s Bravo Company Bushmasters, executed Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear training. Also, Bushmasters conducted a CoR bidding farewell to 1SG Chard and welcoming 1SG Pilcher to the Rakkasan family. The Regulators successfully executed Platoon STX by establishing Role II, conducting provider-led classes and cross training with the evacuation and headquarters platoons. Assurgam Rakkasans begin preparations for a CPX ISO Leader Rakkasans FTX and MEDEVAC drills. Assurgam Rakkasans Americans held a Preventive Maintenance Checks and Services (PMCS) class and EST in preparation for an M4 range. Bushmasters M4 range incorporated the new Integrated Weapons Training Strategy (IWTS). Regulators conducted a MEDEVAC exercise also ISO Leader BN FTX. The BDE welcomed 1st Sgt. Preciado as he assumed responsibility of Dragon Company from Leader BN. Assurgam Rakkasans Regulators executed a CO FTX which the company established a Role II and demonstrated patient treatment to a team from Vanderbilt University. C Co will train on MEDEVAC and CL VIII resupply supported by C Co 6/101 CAB.
War Rakkasans finalized Triple Container (TRICON) load plans in preparation for the projected line haul of Squadron sensitive items departed to Fort Huachuca War leaders capped training with 20 new Eagle First Responders and completing Phase II of the driver’s course.
White Currahee Rakkasans continued to support USARAF Enduring Missions. Maj. Krasko and Capt. Bless of White Currahee conducted a visit to Camp Ramadia to conduct a mid-level planning meeting with the Tunisian Army Special Operations Forces Battalion Commander. The discussion covered the training plan for the Tunisian Air Assault Staff Planning School. White Currahee’s Fox Company executed two ranges covering the M4, M9, M500 transitions, machine gun SBF drills, and foreign weapons training with the AK47 and 40mm HEDP familiarization. While they welcomed home 15 Soldiers deployed ISO USARAF missions.
Solid Rakkasans utilized the block leave period to conduct unit level repairs on the barracks. Solid also conducted an ASIP rodeo to ensure serviceability and material readiness. The TUAS platoon dispatched vehicles and set-up Range 75 in preparation of flight operations for the New Year. Solid executed TUAS flight operations at Range 75 IOT build operator proficiency and crew skills in preparation for the FCX. Solid executed several range densities on the M4, M249, and M240B and utilized the range to cross-train several Soldiers not normally assigned to those weapon systems. Soldiers and Leaders of Solid honed their marksmanship skills by conducting a M320 and M17 range with UAS operators from D Co conducting flight operations throughout that week ISO Leader BN FTX. Rear Detachment Personnel across the Brigade continued their focus on recovery, maintenance and the Air Assault “Big 6” Training tasks.
Rakkasans from Leader and Red Knights, and the BDE FSE executed a Fire Coordination Exercise (FCX). The FCX allows exposes maneuver company leaders and fire supporters to coordinate the effects of aerial and indirect fire assets not normally available during training. All the BNs/SQDN received the much anticipated ACFT equipment with no issues and will begin diagnostics during the 2QFY20. 120 Rakkasans began the two-week participation for the SL-CFT Next Generation Weapons System testing. Rakkasans supporting the BCAP in Fort Knox, Kentucky, returned after completing the supporting requirements for the month-long assessment. Lastly, approximately 40 Rakkasans participated in an ACFT MTT course to certify as Level 1-3 graders and OIC/NCOICs. The course will allow the BNs/SQDN to conduct diagnostics ACFT for FY20. This is just a few things the Rakkasans have been up to for the first quarter, stay tuned for more.