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Utah Reservists Training for Deployment

Utah Reservists Training for Deployment

Posted - Feb. 11, 2004 at 5:04 p.m.



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Jed Boal ReportingAs Utah reservist soldiers head to Iraq, many are training in ways they never have before. Jed Boal caught up with a Utah engineer group in Fort Carson, Colorado where they were drilling for Iraqi ambushes.

In a few weeks the soldiers of the 115th Engineer Group will roll into Iraq. They'll rebuild roads and bridges and help the Iraqis improve their quality of life. But their humanitarian goals may run into dangerous roadblocks. So the troops train to take on attackers from their convoy, when they're most vulnerable.

Lt.Col. Bob Dunton, 115th Engineer Group: “If I have somebody shooting at me, I want to be able to knock them down."

The 80 soldiers of the 115th have confidence and experience with an average age over 35, but the unit has not been deployed in decades.

Specialist Chris Cockayne was headed for law school before he was mobilized right after Christmas. Instead of hitting the law books, he's getting schooled on hitting targets with a 50-caliber machine gun.

These soldiers aren't used to shooting or being shot at in a war zone, so trainers stay on top of them to prepare them for the intensity they may run in to.

Spc. Chris Cockayne, 115th Engineer Group: “I feel the training has helped a lot. It got us into the mindset for sure."

They train to control unruly crowds a half-world away in a very different culture.

Lt.Col. Edward Willis, Commander-115th Engineer Group: “The reality that we're leaving home has hit soldiers. They miss their families; they know they're going to be away for a long time."

Training for that separation may be the hardest drill of all. The 115th Engineer Group will go in and command multiple battalions and may be called for combat missions.

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