Cavalry Scouts Serve as Eyes, Ears of Task Force
Spc Andy Miller, 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
January 26, 2005

 

Photo, caption below.
A team of U.S. soldiers from Task Force 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment’s scout platoon, sweep an area along the Euphrates River searching for hidden weapons caches Jan. 21, 2005. The scouts, known for their role in providing reconnaissance to the task force commander, often fill in as a force multiplier during task force offensive operations. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Andy Miller
 
LATIFIYAH, Iraq, Jan. 26, 2005 — The soldiers of the scout platoon from Task Force 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, call themselves the eyes and ears of the task force.

As cavalry scouts, their job is to perform reconnaissance and report intelligence regarding enemy tactics and locations to the task force commander. Here in Iraq, they perform their scout mission and whole lot more.

“We always go find stuff. That’s our job. To…go find the bad guy,” U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Helton, the scout platoon sergeant, said. “Since we first got here, if [the task force] had a source, we’d go find it, take pictures of it and try to find who lives there and get pictures of them and their cars.”

“We know the area. We know how to fight if something goes wrong. If we see a known terrorist in the area, we have the capability to grab them, or shoot it out with them, or whatever we need to do,” U.S. Army 1st Lt. Justin Harper
 

1st Lt. Justin Harper, the scout platoon leader, explained how the scout platoon’s reconnaissance missions in Iraq often involved working closely with military intelligence analysts and Arabic interpreters. He said having the scouts along as escorts on intelligence gathering missions adds versatility to the task force’s overall objective.

“We know the area. We know how to fight if something goes wrong. If we see a known terrorist in the area, we have the capability to grab them, or shoot it out with them, or whatever we need to do,” Harper said.

After the intelligence is gathered, and the objective identified, then the scouts are on hand to guide the rest of the task force into position. They are there to see the mission through from beginning to conclusion.

Photo, caption below.
U.S. Army Spc. Nathan Woodruff (left), digs for hidden weapons caches as Sgt. Marko Palzcewski stands by with a metal detector. Sgt. Joe Shultz (right), a scout section leader; Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Helton, the scout platoon sergeant, and Spc. Russell Sears look on. The team didn’t find any caches in this spot, but another search in a farmer’s field led them to unearth a cache of hand grenades and mortars. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Andy Miller
Photo, caption below.
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Helton (left), the scout platoon sergeant, and Sgt. Joe Shultz, a scout section leader, unearth a cache of hand grenades during a sweep along the Euphrates River, Jan. 21, 2005. The find was one of over a dozen weapons caches found by Task Force 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, soldiers during the day. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Andy Miller
Photo, caption below.
A pile of hand grenades found by the scout platoon of Task Force 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, won’t be used by anti-Iraqi forces. The grenades were one of over a dozen discovered weapons caches found by the Task Force Jan. 21, 2005. All the found munitions were destroyed by an explosive ordnance disposal team in a series of controlled detonations that night. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Andy Miller
“[We’ll] guide the task force or group of people into an area. We know which house they’re going to hit…and which route to take,” Spc. Ellory Bockting, said. “A Bradley can’t go, for example, in some areas that other vehicles can. A [large truck] can’t make the turn that a Bradley can. They trust us to get them to that house, or to get them to that objective, because we know the area.”

When they’re not scouting, the scouts fill in as a force multiplier. They’ve been on the ground with the infantry conducting raids, searches and patrols with a steady reliability over the past year.

Recently they were found sweeping farmland for weapons caches during a Jan. 21 task force operation along the Euphrates River near Latifiyah. The scout platoon swept an area adjacent to an infantry platoon and discovered a cache of over 70 hand grenades and several mortars.

“[Searching fields] is not typically a scout mission, but we do it because we have wheels,” Harper said. “We can get a lot of places where it’s hard for people to get, and basically we’re all over the place doing different stuff.”

One thing that makes the scouts so dynamic is their ability to operate independently and with minimal guidance, Harper explained.

“If its time to do dismount, we dismount. If its time to do a cordon and search, we do that. [As a scout] you’re doing a lot more stuff, and you’re doing it independently,” Harper said. “We are the eyes and ears of the Task Force and we operate away from a lot of higher level supervision. I get my guidance from the battalion commander and we go. We’re gone.

“[It’s the] same thing with my sections. I’m going to tell them, this is what you need to accomplish, but I’m not going to tell you where to sit. It’s very decentralized, and it requires a lot of independent thought, he continued.”

Bockting, a native of Louisville, Ky., added that as a small platoon, the scouts know each other well, and have a high level of camaraderie, allowing them to work well together.

“The scout platoon knows each other real well,” Bockting said. “We know each other’s tone. We know attitudes. We can tell who’s in a bad mood, who’s not in a bad mood, who can handle what today, who’s going to be the energetic one, and who’s going to be the one to take charge on this particular event.”

The value of this tight-knit, relatively small task force element was proven in theater over the past year, according to Helton. Whatever the scouts were tasked to do, whether a scout mission, or a common task mission, the scouts came through and accomplished the assignment, he said.

Source:    http://www.defendamerica.mil

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