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Thunder? It might be Camp Ripley: Sights, sounds and smells of training

CAMP RIPLEY - The Minnesota National Guard is conducting specific, complex training on the installation between May 15 and Aug. 25, 2015. "This training is to evaluate each unit on its ability to meet readiness requirements and be prepared to sup...

CAMP RIPLEY - The Minnesota National Guard is conducting specific, complex training on the installation between May 15 and Aug. 25, 2015.

"This training is to evaluate each unit on its ability to meet readiness requirements and be prepared to support federal and state missions," said Capt. Adam Stock, assistant operations officer for Camp Ripley. "The elements of the training will cause noise that may exceed what has been heard in the local area over the past few years," said Maj. John Donovan a spokesperson for Camp Ripley. Since late May 155mm M109A6 Howitzers from the 1st Battalion - 125th Field Artillery, have been conducting live fire training to validate their proficiency of being on time and on target. Crews of the 1st Battalion - 151st Artillery will be culminating their training and conducting similar live fire exercises of their 155mm M777 Howitzers between July 28 and Aug 2, 2015.

Loud booms, similar to thunder, will be heard during day and nighttime hours. "Similar to small arms qualification, field artillery needs to be proficient and qualify yearly in numerous gunnery tables," said Maj. Steven Hall, Camp Ripley range control officer. "These gunnery tables require artillery crews to fire multiple rounds to qualify including high explosive, illumination and smoke," added Hall.

Tank and Bradley live fire exercises will continue through Aug. 15 with noise not as pronounced as the artillery, but will be continuous as their training requirements escalate. Additionally, the tank and Bradley units will be conducting maneuver training around Camp Ripley demonstrating their ability to effectively shoot, move and communicate in a variety of terrain types.

"Up till now, training has been more of a 'walk phase' getting soldiers familiarized with the tasks before them," said Capt. Peter Rampaart of 2nd Combined Arms Battalion - 136th Infantry. Once the vehicles are running, gear is packed and weapons ready, it'll be game on," he added. To match the caliber of the training offered at national training centers, First Army personnel organized an Opposing Forces, or OPFOR. The requirements of the OPFOR is to represent a real life opponent that acts as a simulated aggressor against personnel being trained.

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"Soldiers of the 1st Engineers are serving as regular and irregular OPFOR; part of the Army's "hybrid threat" training model," said Capt. Robert McAllister, assistant S-3 1st Engineer Battalion - 1st Infantry Division. Soldiers conducting training against OPFOR are often required to perform their tasks while battling the distractions of smoke, noise simulators or blank ammunition while maneuvering.

Related Topics: CAMP RIPLEY
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