Fort Hood’s 3rd Cavalry Regiment is deploying more than 400 soldiers from its 4th “Longknife” Squadron to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as part of the Multinational Force and Observers peacekeeping force, 1st Cavalry Division officials announced last week.
This is the second unit to assume the mission from the 1st Cavalry Division. Soldiers from 6th “Saber” Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, began returning from their nine-month deployment to the country Friday.
Maj. Mike Ohman, operations officer for Longknife, was able to answer questions from the Herald on the upcoming mission, the training involved and what it means to take the squadron on its first deployment since it was activated November 2011.
What benefit did the squadron get by working with Saber Squadron to develop training?
Early coordination with (Saber) ... has phenomenally enhanced (Longknife) to be fully prepared to assume the mission. (Saber) provided lessons learned and an after-action review of their train-up plan back in October. These lessons-learned allowed (us) to shape our calendar and start requesting required military training teams and our culminating training event. We were able to coordinate, synchronize and execute slingload training, advanced situational awareness training, culinary course, field sanitation course, nonlethal weapons training, culminating training event, protocol training, drivers training, and use-of-force training. Basically, we did not go blind into this. We were able to shape our preparation in a way that should allow us to be successful. (Saber) troopers let us know what to focus on.
Additionally, this allowed our squadron commander to provide his intent and desired endstate for our unit; his intent let leaders at every level adapt and modify training to ensure that the purpose of the training was always met. And by knowing his endstate, we gained a picture of what success would look like, and we worked to that goal.
Training for peacekeeping is different than training for combat. Can you describe how soldiers took to the training?
There were several things the squadron needed to do to shape how our soldiers viewed this deployment. An estimated 55 percent of our soldiers have had one previous deployment. There is a generation of young soldiers and officers who have not deployed before. With all our soldiers, we needed to increase situational understanding of the (multinational force of observers) mission. We began a strategy to layout a framework on how to make this mental leap of a peacekeeping operation, where we are to observe and report.
First lesson: Words have meaning. As an example, we do not have a “quick-reaction force,” but a “camp response team.” The former is a combat term tied to combat operations, and this is not a combat operation.
Second lesson: We conducted multiple leader development and squadron-level training events on the use of force in order to ensure all soldiers know what is expected of them.
Third lesson: We all developed goals and a long-range plan for the deployment that all leaders had a chance to shape.
Is the squadron looking forward to its first deployment and beginning its own chapter of history for this storied regiment?
Absolutely. There is excitement in the air for soldiers who have never deployed and are able to serve their country in this capacity. For soldiers who have deployed before, this is a chance to see a part of the world they have never been to. Additionally, being able to represent Longknife Squadron and 3rd Cavalry in its first peacekeeping operation is an honor.
This regiment has a well-earned reputation of deployment success, and this is an opportunity to continue that tradition.