Drills buzzed while soldiers lay back, mouths open as dental specialists worked.
In one chair, a soldier relaxed as a dental specialist took X-rays of his molars. In another, a soldier was having his teeth cleaned.
The bustle was just like any dentist office – except these dental specialists worked off generators in tents with traces of sand on the floor.
“This helps our unit with our wartime mission,” said Col. Stacy Larsen, commander of the 257th Dental Company Area Support. “We’re making sure we’re ready for our inherent job to treat patients.”
The company — one of three in the Army — is scheduled to deploy to Kuwait as part of a regular rotation next spring. This week, these soldiers got out of their brick-and-mortar clinics to practice their skills in an austere environment.
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As a radio call blasted news of three soldiers injured in a firefight, medical soldiers braced themselves for the incoming chaos.
“Hey buddy, you alert?,” said a medic, as a soldier was rolled into the tent on a litter. Gauze was wrapped around the soldier’s chest.
The injuries — part of a simulated mass casualty exercise — tested soldiers from the 44th Medical Brigade’s 28th Combat Support Hospital to treat multiple soldiers with serious injuries. The soldiers worked with their Air Force partners to coordinate air transportation when injuries required a higher level of care.
You can read the story here: http://www.fayobserver.com/news/20180312/exercise-challenges-medical-soldiers-to-be-prepared
Construction on a new, modern aerial gunnery range at Fort Bragg is ahead of schedule and could open to soldiers as soon as 2020.
The gunnery range, which will provide rotary wing aircraft bombing and target practice for aviators, is south of the Sicily, Normandy, Salerno and Holland drop zones. The $45 million range will include more than 350 automated targets and six observation towers with cameras.
“Getting this completed is great news for Fort Bragg,” said Wolf Amacker, the installation range officer. “We’ve got a huge need for this range.”
Read the story here: http://www.fayobserver.com/news/20180311/new-modern-gunnery-range-at-fort-bragg-ahead-of-schedule
Soldiers on guard duty were startled when a sharp, high-pitched whistle screeched near their fighting hole.
There was no mistaking the distinct sound — an enemy mortar had exploded not far from them.
“Incoming!” they yelled, hitting the ground and settling into position to return fire.
It was part of a simulation, challenging these soldiers from the 18th Field Artillery Brigade to react to an enemy attack on a forward operating base. Over the two-week exercise at Fort Bragg, the soldiers will conduct training that covers core skills, such as defensive fire reaction, to their specialized artillery skills, including launching rockets and working with helicopters to receive fresh munitions.
Read the story here: http://www.fayobserver.com/news/20180304/field-artillery-soldiers-hone-skills-build-confidence
Soldiers who eliminate enemy objectives with bombs, missiles and artillery can soon ditch their heavy targeting equipment for new, lighter technology that streamlines plotting and speeds up fire missions.
The Joint Effects Targeting System — a lightweight, all-weather location module — could be fielded to soldiers across the Army as soon as October. Over the summer, soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery’s 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment tested the equipment’s ability to be dropped from aircraft, then assembled on the battlefield.
“We didn’t have a system that every forward observer could use that was man-portable — especially in Afghanistan in the mountains,” said Capt. Eric Munn, assistant product manager for the target equipment. “Let’s give them something that weights 5.5 pounds so they can carry it around and do their job a lot better.”
Read the story here: http://www.fayobserver.com/news/20180303/fort-bragg-soldiers-test-new-equipment
At Fort Bragg this week, soldiers are preparing for what could be the worst day of their lives.
Tracking blood supplies and rescue teams pulling people from rubble, dozens of soldiers are simulating a response to a nuclear crisis as part of an exercise to prepare them for a year-long stint as part of a task force that responds to domestic emergencies.
Elements of the 18th Airborne Corps are training for the mission at Fort Bragg before a similar exercise in Indiana later this year.
At a command post on one of Fort Bragg’s training areas, digital maps are lit up with paths of plume from the simulated nuclear explosion, while the soldiers determine where to send ambulances and medical helicopters. They’re calm, but working with urgency.
“This would be after potentially the worst day in our nation’s history,” said Col. Larry Dewey, commander of the 16th Military Police Brigade.
You can read the story here: http://www.fayobserver.com/news/20180228/fort-bragg-soldiers-are-training-for-nuclear-nightmare
Soldiers from the 83rd Civil Affairs Battalion traveled to Wilmington last week to learn about port operations ahead of an upcoming deployment.
The soldiers will be partnered with the Navy for the deployment across several countries in the Pacific Command theater, where they could be called upon to advise on port operations. They are scheduled to leave at the end of February.
“We’re learning how ports operate so we can be one step ahead,” said Staff Sgt. Kevin Peckenpaugh, a Civil Affairs specialist.
Read the story here: http://www.fayobserver.com/news/20180127/civil-affairs-soldiers-learn-port-operations-ahead-of-deployment
Seconds after leaping from the Black Hawk, rifles were drawn and paratroopers moved into position — all part of an air assault training exercise for 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers deployed to Kosovo.
Smoke concealed their movements as they ran toward an enemy bunker. The solders moved together seamlessly, shooting at simulated enemy forces.
“They have to immediately be able to go into the battle drill,” said 1st Sgt. Edward Michel. “They have seconds to make decisions, or it can cause American or allied forces to be wounded or worse. This puts the enemy on their heels.”
You can read the story here: http://www.fayobserver.com/news/20180120/1st-brigade-soldiers-practice-skills-in-kosovo
After safely landing from an airborne operation over Sicily Drop Zone, American paratroopers marched in formation, waiting for the next command from their Dutch jump master.
The jump master paced in front of the group, lauding the paratroopers for their successful jump and landing.
“Congratulations from Dutch paratroopers,” he said, before awarding pins of Dutch wings to each soldier. “The U.S. and the Netherlands work together, not just in training, but deployments. We’re coalition partners and really proud to be coalition partners with the U.S.”
You can read the story here: http://www.fayobserver.com/news/20171202/bragg-soldiers-earn-foreign-wings-in-toy-drop
Hundreds of paratroopers thriving on energy drinks and adrenaline filled Green Ramp early Friday, clutching ticket stubs as an announcer rattled off a six-digit number.
When soldiers heard their numbers called, they sprinted to claim a coveted spot on a flight with a foreign jump master. If no one claimed the spot, the crowd collectively screamed, “Scratch!,” a signal to move on to the next ticket.
Regardless of who got a spot, children hoping for a cheerful Christmas were the big winners.
Read the story here: http://www.fayobserver.com/news/20171201/paratroopers-seeking-wings-spread-christmas-spirit
Behind the byline
Here's an inside look at how some of my favorite stories came together.