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SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2014  04:28:41 AM

Long Range Surveillance: True test for ‘quiet professional’

Email   Print   Share By Spc. Adam Turner, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
August 12, 2010 | News
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1st Cavalry Division Soldiers trying out for the 2-38 Cav. Regt.’s Long Range Surveillance, Airborne unit at Fort Hood, gut out the last mile of a 2.5-mile “buddy run” July 27. Spc. Adam Turner, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
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Applicants from the 1st Cav. Div. (seated) receive their initial briefing on the 2-38 Cav. Regt.’s Long Range Surveillance, Airborne unit selection course July 26. These candidates are briefed on every aspect of the week-long course by Sgt. 1st Class Edward Crosby (left), the Insertion and Extraction NCOIC.
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Sergeant 1st Class John A. Cline (left), the NCOIC of the 2-38 Cav. Regt.’s LRS, Airborne Ranger Assessment Program, prepares candidates from the 1st Cav. Div. for a five-mile run July 27.
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Candidates perform sit-ups under the watchful eye of Ranger “Tabbed” LRS unit members during a physical fitness assessment July 27.
In 1943, Gen. Frederick Browning, commander of the British First Airborne Corps, granted a battalion of paratroopers from the United States Army’s 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment membership in the British Parachute Regiment and authorized them to wear the British-style maroon berets.

Ever since, Soldiers who find themselves in an airborne unit have worn this distinctive head dress as a symbol of airborne pride. At other Army installations, such as North Carolina’s Fort Bragg, home to the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, maroon berets are as frequently seen as the Soldiers who wear them.

But here on Fort Hood, which mechanized troopers call home, maroon berets are worn only by a select and chosen few.

There are about 150 Soldiers in Troop C, 2nd Battalion, 38th Cavalry Regiment’s Long Range Surveillance, an airborne unit that calls West Fort Hood home. This company-sized element, under the command of the 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, is at the tip of the spear.

During ground combat operations they provide near real-time information, helping commanders to make better and more focused combat decisions, 1st Sgt. Jason Skeen said.

“The LRS mission is important because we are one of only three LRS companies left in the Army. We operate in undisclosed locations infiltrating objectives undetected; that is what makes the human intelligence collector such a vital piece in the Army’s current deployment mission,” he said.

It is a safe assumption that members of this specialized unit realize the significance of their role in the combat mission. They also think it could be the most satisfying role.

“When an LRS team deploys, it is not a conventional line unit mentality. You have six guys (on mission) … if you take contact (with the enemy), that’s six guns,” Staff Sgt. Darren James, an LRS team leader, said.

“No man’s idea means less than anyone else’s at that point, everyone has their input. This is a common sense, innovative and customer-based organization. We gather intelligence from behind enemy lines. We watch life unfold in an area where no one knows we exist. We need that “quiet professional” who we know is doing the right thing regardless of the situation,” James emphasized.

The unit just wrapped up its most recent monthly LRS selection course in which candidates from around Fort Hood voluntarily subjected themselves to rigorous physical training.

Though 50 slots were available, only four Soldiers showed up July 26 with their enlisted record brief in hand. This piece of paper is the only look the LRS command group gets at each candidate because of their participation in the Ranger Assessment Program, which is the physical standard that all applicants are graded upon for selection.

“The first week of Ranger school is RAP week, and if you look at all the physical events we do for our selection, it is exactly the same things you have to do in Ranger school: same time standards, everything,” Sgt. 1st Class John Cline said.

For the candidates, the week’s gauntlet of Ranger activities was challenging, beginning on day one with timed push-up and sit-ups and a 5-mile run in less than 40 minutes. New candidates did as many reverse-grip pull-ups as they could while weighed down by sweat-drenched uniforms.

Although exhaustion might have been commonplace by now, most of the course’s participants overcame it.

The next morning’s 2.5-mile “buddy-run” included sprints and sustained-paced running. The muscle-tightening change of pace was exacerbated when troops alternately had to shoulder 50-pound water jugs and then the weight of another Soldier on their backs for a half mile.

“It would be an unfair assumption to say that the physical aspect of what we do isn’t essential to what makes an LRS Soldier. These guys sometimes hump for days all throughout the night to objectives with up to 150 pounds on their backs,” Skeen said.

“It is necessary to put them through this because when you are dropped in the fight we have to know that everyone is going to make it. If one person fails the team fails and we have a team-oriented mission,” he added.

Wrapping up the week with a 12-mile ruck march and Ranger Swim Test, the four candidates from the 1st Cavalry Division propelled themselves to what Cline called the most essential portion of the selection process.

“The board process is no different than a job interview. It is a meeting between that Soldier and our entire command to include four platoon sergeants and the first sergeant. It is a great opportunity for us to finally get to know a little bit about who they are as an individual, their mind-set, that sort of thing,” Cline said.

With only three LRS brigades in the Army, keeping the roster filled is often a top priority for the LRS teams here at Fort Hood.

“The biggest problem we run into isn’t finding the individuals to select,” Skeen said. “It is getting those Soldiers released to us from their current units.”

“And we understand that; we know it is hard for commanders and first sergeants to let their guys go to another unit. But if a Soldier has tried out and earned his place, by denying him that opportunity you are failing that Soldier,” James said.

However, the Soldiers and NCOs who make up this command know firsthand that the main motivating factor for any candidate should be the LRS mission.

“Just because we wear the red berets, jump (out of an airplane) here once a month, and wear the Ranger tab doesn’t mean that Ranger school and airborne status should be the deciding factor for trying out,” Darren said.

“We are looking for those individuals who exemplify what it means to be a ‘quiet professional,’ the ones who find a way when the way seems lost. You should know what we do and have the desire to learn from those of us who have been in the skill set a while, then worry about the schools that are offered,” he added.

“If a Soldier wants to better himself and he is already proficient at his 88M (truck driver) skills or 11 series skills (infantryman), they wouldn’t be doing anything but justice for themselves by trying to become a part of this unit here,” Skeen said. “We have opportunities. We have a distinctive mission.

“Now, we just need those Soldiers who are looking to be a part of a special unit here at Fort Hood,” he added.

For more information about the 2nd Battalion, 38th Cavalry Regiment, Long Range Surveillance (Airborne) at Fort Hood, or for information on becoming an applicant, contact the unit at 553-0759 or stop by Bldg. 91234 on West Fort Hood.
 
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