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Is Anyone Downrange?

Is Anyone Downrange?


It was a typical day for the Headquarters and Headquarters Company scout platoon. Everyone came in early that day to pack and get ready for a field exercise. The range was right in our backyard, only about an eight-mile hike. We departed the battalion headquarters at 1300, but it still took another two hours to get to our bivouac area and set up for the field problem. The rest of the battalion would join us a little later.

That night, we received a reconnaissance mission to investigate a trench on which the two companies would conduct a live-fire exercise the next day. Our platoon leader briefed us on the mission, and third squad was tasked to recon the area for Bravo Company. The unit was set to attack the trench at 1000. Third squad would recon the range at 0800, giving us two hours to sketch and then brief the plan.

The next morning, we got up and radioed over the net to make sure the range was cold and it was safe to proceed. After we were cleared, we proceeded and got into position. Because there were two trenches, we split up the squad. Half went on ahead to sketch the forward trench while the rest of us stayed in place and began to sketch the other.

About 10 minutes into our recon mission, we heard something that sounded like gunfire. Immediately, we radioed the other team to see if they could see anything from their position. They told us it was just someone testing the pneumatic gun, so we continued with the mission. A little while later, a member of my team reported that the company was coming onto the range. We tried to reach them on the radio, but it was too late. They were already in position and began opening fire.

My team and I yelled cease-fire and tried reaching them on the radio as we hunkered down in an old mortar hole. The crackling of bullets hitting the dirt and trees was all around us. The only thing that saved us was that the first sergeant saw one of the Soldiers from the team farther up and immediately called for a cease-fire.

We survived the range and identified the problem. The Bravo Company leadership did not want the recon and decided to attack the range early. The mix-up resulted when the radio operator informed us that the range was cold, but failed to tell us we were not needed. In the end, none of this would have happened if someone would have just asked, “Is anyone downrange?

  • 1 November 2014
  • Author: Army Safety
  • Number of views: 10697
  • Comments: 0