INSIDE OPERATION CHECKERBOARD

In what I call a “warrior refresher,” I had the…

In what I call a “warrior refresher,” I had the unique opportunity to embed with the U.S. Army Reserve in a combat exercise called “Operation Checkerboard” at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. It was like being in the middle of a real campaign, and the sandy terrain at the base added a sense of realism to the scene.

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The soldiers divided up into two groups: One group would occupy and defend a Forward Operating Base, while another group would attack and attempt to seize the base as an “opposing force.” The exercise allowed soldiers to train as they fight, utilizing tactical movements, small-arms tactics, and effective offensive and defensive measures. U.S. Army Reserve soldiers from the 99th RSC Headquarters Company, 78th Army Band (Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst), 380th Army Band (Richmond, VA), 94th Army Band (East Windsor, CT), 319th Army Band (Fort Totten, NY), and 198th Army Band (Rochester, NY) participated in the exercise.

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The combat exercise began with an olive drab tandem rotor Boeing CH-47 Chinook Helicopter buzzing the tree line and banking down into a landing zone. With engines roaring, rotors spinning, and a sandstorm erupting, a wide loading ramp at the rear of the fuselage lowered and soldiers dressed in army combat uniforms, wearing advanced combat helmets, and carrying M16A2 assault rifles came swarming out into the dustup. The Boeing CH-47 is a heavy-lift multi-mission helicopter that moves troops and artillery into the battlefield.

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It took multiple helicopter landings to transport all the soldiers to the combat exercise. After disembarking from the helicopters, soldiers took orders from their superiors and began their combat objectives to occupy and defend a Forward Operating Base. The trek to the base took the soldiers down a long gravel sandy trail. With the sun blazing in the sky and temperatures in the high 80s, the soldiers formed a two-column formation and marched to their objective.

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  • VTGunner

    I wish my army band would do something like this!!!