Fort Riley soldiers train in Afghanistan-like mountains of Fort Sill - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Fort Riley soldiers train in Afghanistan-like mountains of Fort Sill

Fort Sill_Over 100 soldiers from Fort Riley, Kansas are at Fort Sill this week, getting a taste of a different type of terrain.  Fort Riley is flat, but Fort Sill has the Wichita Mountains. Those who've been in the Middle East before say Fort Sill is the perfect training ground to replicate the mountains of Afghanistan--on a much smaller scale.

The Fort Riley soldiers get to practice landing helicopters in different terrain and climbing those mountains on a mission. The main reason they are here is for an aviation battalion to get practice doing various missions with Blackhawk helicopters.  They also brought several dozen infantry to practice transport and drop-off, but once the helicopters landed, they put the foot soldiers to work, too.

In Monday's training exercise, the soldiers had to infiltrate two areas of "Liberty City" and search for an insurgent leader of a terrorist cell, hiding among the villagers. "He's been identified as someone who if we capture we can exploit information from and also disrupt that cell in particular and potentially disrupt that larger insurgent cell," said Captain Drew Carrigan.

In a swift strike, six helicopters landed by the two neighborhoods of Liberty City, dropping off soldiers and leaving as quickly as they arrived. "Being able to use the helicopters, it's just a different thing for us to do that we don't get to do at Fort Riley," said Staff Sergeant Chauncey Raiden.  "The guys get a chance to work with the pilots and get familiar with air assault."

"We want these guys to be as versatile as possible, whether they move in on a truck or they walk in or we have to fly them in on a helicopter, they get experience participating in the planning process and rapid deployment via helicopter to an objective," said Carrigan.

The mission's objective wasn't just to land the helicopters and get the soldiers off successfully.   The two neighborhoods had about about two-dozen villagers each--and the soldiers had to find them, search them, and determine who was an enemy. "They get the opportunity to experience things that they're going to have to do in combat," said Colonel Steve Smith. "But they get the luxury of being able to do it here--make mistakes but not suffer as a consequence of it."

They simulated casualties, and had to get the wounded out to a helicopter for treatment, while others continued to search for the insurgent leader.

They eventually located the leader and interrogated him, and they will use that information in their next mission. The information about the leader and his location came from a previous exercise, and the missions are designed in a series where each task gets information about the next.  They'll continue with the information acquired today to follow missions at other posts in future training.

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