Over the past three weeks, Point One has worked hard to realize a new exercise support capability in the desert environment out west called Area 33. Many Team Point One members helped us prepare and ensured all of the training aids and logistics were set up and ready when needed for training exercises in the desert training area.
To the men who made the journey and paid the man—we thank you very much for all you achieved and your dedication to this effort!
The short story is this:
Week one set the stage for what we signed up to do; the dirty dozen endured 4:30am wake-ups, 110-degree F heat, 2-hour transits each day and 12-hour work days (including a Saturday session) to establish our foothold on Area 33.
The magnificent seven continued the work on week two to bring us home; still enduring long days, high temps and the added element of wind-blown sand. All told, the prep crews put in over 1000 combined man hours, tolerated more than 1500 road miles, flew more than 5000 miles (each), moved over 3000 pounds of training aids, suffered through Coronavirus restrictions and mask craziness, and overcame multiple shipping delays in order to accomplish the following:
- Prepped and site dressed 15 new buildings
- Cleaned up several hundred pounds of trash at the Migrant Village
- Designed, secured or constructed 4 new areas at the Migrant Village
- Developed and improved several thousand feet of new roads in the training area
- Constructed multiple demo pits and a new 50 pound demo range
- Improved the existing and created a new tactical shooting range
- Remodeled the current operations area at Area 33
- And completed a multitude of other little time consuming things (like daily runs to HD for supplies)
Ultimately, all of this hard work and all who supported this endeavor enabled an extremely successful outcome for Point One’s new exercise support capability.
Week three started on Sunday afternoon as the platoon, twenty role players and six N7 personnel arrived. The days/nights were long and the sleep was short, but our playbook and forethought, coupled with a more than capable training area ensured a realistic drill set that helped prepare young EOD Operators for combat. We managed to facilitate seven full mission profile (FMP) multi task drill sets, three base attacks, four response drills and three rotation drills over the course of four exercise days. These drill sets included multiple tasks within the main event to include clandestine labs (HME, chemical, and drug), impedance to assault and booby trap clearance, cache clearance tasks, hostage rescue with devices, opposing force engagements, land navigation, live demolition, sensitive site exploitation (SSE), House Borne/Vehicle Borne IEDs (HBIED/VBIED) and protected Helicopter Landing Zone (HLZ) clearance.
The drill sets finished early AM Friday and after a few hours of rest, we cleaned up, disposed of 150 pounds of leftover explosives (they brought way too much, but they were nice shots), and conducted a detailed hot wash before we saw the platoon off to start their long weekend.
The hot wash was very positive and all participants were extremely happy with the level of effort, the training area, and the drill sets provided. They could not thank us enough for all Team Point One put into this and were grateful for the opportunity. Likewise, the Mobile Unit and EOD Group N7 staff, the EOD CDRE/CMC and EODMU CO/CMC, were extremely complimentary and thankful for what our team is doing to bring the operational capability to a new level. At one point, the EOD Commodore let me know that “this is what right looks like.” He was very pleased with what he observed and how well things were going.
Thank you once again to all who contributed to this effort and especially to the men who joined Mitch and I in the desert for the entire three weeks. At times, our journey brought back the memories of another desert so many of us served in overseas and helped us remember why we do what we do. I believe Area 33 will continue to improve and will continue to grow as we work to expand our capability to train and exercise the operators we support out west. The ownership at the Racetrack and Area 33 are very excited about the future and very supportive of our goals and needs. The “Freedom to Maneuver” is unparalleled here and we look forward to the growth and potential Area 33 holds.