Students coordinate successful attack on Selby Hill village

A Soldier provides cover fire for his squad while they move to seize and occupy an enemy building July 14 at Selby Hill village. (Photos by Gerald Williams)

A Soldier provides cover fire for his squad while they move to seize and occupy an enemy building July 14 at Selby Hill village. (Photos by Gerald Williams)

By Gerald Williams, Bayonet & Saber /

Second lieutenants in the Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course successfully coordinated an attack on Selby Hill village July 14 during week 15 of their 17-week training curriculum.

Soldiers patrol through a forest near Selby Hill village during a July 14 training exercise called Leaders Forge. (Photos by Gerald Williams)

Soldiers patrol through a forest near Selby Hill village during a July 14 training exercise called Leaders Forge.

According to 2nd Lt. Joseph Van Essche, a student in the class, the exercise objectives were to quickly and efficiently clear three buildings in the surrounding area and seize them with few casualties.

“This exercise helps Soldiers adapt to the shifting fight that the Army will face in urban warfare,” he said. “This operation looks at the bigger picture. It teaches Soldiers to solve objectives that could be occupied by forces that basically rival the technical capabilities we have.”

Even though the attack began at 6 a.m., Soldiers were already on the move with a 12-mile trek across Selby the previous night.

During the operation, three platoons made their way into Selby Hill village blanketed by thick clouds of smoke. The teams used suppressive fire on simulated enemies within the buildings as Soldiers captured and seized each objective.

Soldiers prepare to seize an enemy building July 14 at Selby Hill village. (Photos by Gerald Williams)

Soldiers prepare to seize an enemy building July 14 at Selby Hill village.

“The Army works on a crawl, walk and run basis,” said Van Essche, whose future assignment is with the 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis. “Through the weeks we’ve gone through a basic attack where we perform in an open field. Then we move to buildings, where we learn how to clear them efficiently. Then we move to larger objectives that involve clearing two buildings. (We) learn how to occupy the first building and how to use suppressive fire on the next building.”

“Eventually, it all culminates to this operation where we have multiple buildings that need to be cleared of enemy forces and captured. It’s all very complex.”

The exercise is called Leader Forge because it tests everything the second lieutenants have learned.

A second lieutenant uses suppresive fire on simulated enemies occupying a building July 14 at Selby Hill village. (Photos by Gerald Williams)

A second lieutenant uses suppresive fire on simulated enemies occupying a building July 14 at Selby Hill village.

“Next week, we will be working with combined arms maneuver,” said Van Essche. “We’ll be able to see how to use dismount vehicles like Bradleys. We’ll be working with guys in the Armor Basic Officer Leaders Course. It’s a good opportunity to learn from other forces who use different equipment and strategies than we do.”

“You wouldn’t find other branches doing this kind of operation. That is what makes this operation unique. Other branches may focus on detonating things, breaching or clearing roads, but that is a different kind of fight. This is the Infantry’s fight.”

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