Culminating demonstration shows capability of MOUT ACTD kit
Infantrymen seized the city, forced out enemy troops and returned the city to the proper authorities as part of the culminating demonstration for the Military Operations in Urban Terrain, Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (MOUT ACTD) Sept 8-20.
The demonstration was part of the Joint Contingency Force, Advanced Warfighter Experiment at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La. It was the high point of an initiative started in 1997 to improve our military’s capability in the type of urban warfighting soldiers experienced in Grenada, Panama, Somalia, and Haiti, said Maj. Joseph G. Krebs Jr., MOUT officer-in-charge, JRTC.
“It’s predicted that 50 percent of today’s combat will be fought in urban areas,” Krebs said. “By the year 2025, it will be approximately 75 percent.”
Urban combat is particularly dangerous to U.S. military troops for several reasons, Krebs said. History has shown that a hometown advantage is enough to complicate lines of communication and limit conventional warfighting effectiveness. And he said the presence of non-combatants also can restrict lethal firepower. The MOUT program was undertaken as a direct response to those circumstances, he said, and aims to solve them with new equipment and tactics, techniques and procedures.
Soldiers from 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry in Fort Drum, N.Y., and Marines from 2nd Marines Division’s Company K, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, from Camp Lejeune, N.C., took the entire kit of about 25 products to help them with the fight as part of a combined arms team, according to Maj. Rick Stockton, Dismounted Battlespace Battle Lab Division III chief.
An overnight demonstration consisted of force-on-force fire using MILES “laser tag” between Fort Polk’s Opposing Force and the U.S. Blue Force at the simulated war-torn town of Shughart-Gordon.
The products were successfully used by troops in clearing three adjacent buildings in the complex after their air assault and initial breach into Shughart-Gordan, according to Carol Fitzgerald, MOUT ACTD technology program manager.
Mapping and mission rehearsal tools were used throughout the mission preparation phase. The Pointer Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was seen as a good option to use to gather intelligence in the absence of helicopters.
Companies B and C had man-portable ladders capable of reaching three story rooftops but no opportunity to use them. Still, Company C used the Quickstep—a ladder small enough to fit in a rucksack—to climb on top of a one-story building and enter from the roof.
Explosive Cutting Tape was used several times to blow holes through walls to enable surprise breaching and entry into buildings. Rafael Rifle Launched Door Breaching Round Simulators were used to remotely breach doors. During the exercise, the troops wore SPEAR/Ranger body armor, and knee and elbow pads for individual protection.
“The culminating demonstration validated that the MOUT kit gives new capabilities in the fight and proves the value of the ACTD in getting useful equipment quickly into the field,” said Pete Wallace, acting deputy technology program manager for the MOUT ACTD at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (Natick). Since experimentation began in January 1998 with approximately 128 technologies, the list of products was cut to about 25 through extensive testing and training with the soldiers and Marines.
MOUT requirements were established and prioritized based on the feedback of servicemembers and subject matter experts. The requirements filled the design criteria for some 32 targeted areas of improvement in urban combat, Krebs said. Technologies in the realms of rapid mapping, personal protection, powered optics and forced entry equipment were among the highlights of the list.
“MOUT ACTD changes the face of the battle at the squad level,” Wallace said. “These technologies provide new capabilities. The enemy is less able to respond, and that’s where these products are handy.”
With anticipated approval of battalion and company commanders, the entire group of technologies will comprise the residual package and will be provided to the Army and Marine operational forces for a two-year extended user evaluation until Sept. 30, 2002.
“They will have a chance to determine what they like and would want in the inventory,” Wallace said. “The evaluation will provide an interim operational capability and allow them to further refine the tactics, techniques and procedures.”
Editor’s Note: Pvt. James Strine, a member of the 27th Public Affairs Detachment from Fort Drum, N.Y., contributed to this story.