Volume 31, No. 4
Cavalry MOUTs Up At Fort Knox
Photo and story by Sgt. Shawn Morris, 444th MPAD
5th Squadron, 117th Cavalry, took advantage of a recent opportunity
to become the first New Jersey
Guard unit to train at the nation’s premier MOUT
(Military Operations on Urban Terrain) site, the Zussman
Urban Combat Training Center at Fort Knox, Ky.
The 5-117th spent July 7 through 10 living and training
at the 26-acre site – which has been open to military, lawenforcement,
and emergency-response personnel since
October 1999 – as part of the Army’s continuing transformation
into a 21st-century fighting force.
The Army estimates that untrained troops fighting
urban environment will sustain 25- to 30-percent casualties.
Realistic training like that provided at the Zussman site
aims to reduce those figures as much as possible.
The four-day drill in Kentucky was the culmination of
training that began in November 2004; when cadre from
Zussman began traveling to New Jersey to give the 5-117th
Soldiers preliminary training.
“There was a whole plethora of sub-tasks,” explained
Lt. Col. Jim Rosenberg, squadron commander.
programs helped the unit immensely,” said Staff Sgt. Tom Alderson, A Troop. “I
cannot say enough good things about the cadre.”
“The Zussman crew is amazing,” added 2nd
Lt. Vincent Tirri, A Troop. “They are all about training, and
they are very
At the MOUT site, their first mission was to occupy
embassy building and take out insurgents in a nearby
restaurant. The second mission involved clearing five
townhouses while searching for a rumored weapons cache.
The Cav Soldiers quickly became acquainted with
the volunteers who play the insurgents and Civilians
On the Battlefield (COBs) at Zussman.
“The volunteers were great,” said Tirri. “They
reacted the way normal people would to Soldiers, and
they were able to pick up on my Soldiers’ body
language and emotional reactions to situations, and
use this to make the exercise even more realistic.”
The paintball guns helped add to the realism.
Mission three was a presence patrol. Several car
bombs exploded and the local inhabitants began to
yell and throw trash at the Soldiers, but everyone kept
their cool and the potential uprising eventually fizzled
On the fourth mission, information gathered from
insurgents led to a raid against a local boss’ stronghold.
Later that morning, the fifth and final mission
called for a Traffic Control Point (TCP) to be set up at the
town’s traffic circle.
One unique characteristic of the training was that junior
officers and NCOs led all the missions.
“I think the junior leaders really stepped up,” said
Rosenberg. “I was very, very proud of the way they executed
Two of those junior leaders, Tirri and Alderson, were
equally impressed with the training received at Zussman. “Zussman
is quite possibly one of the finest Training Areas
the Army has at its disposal today,” said Tirri. “From
trainers, to the civilian volunteers, to the structures themselves,
everyone plays a part in creating the immersive
environment of Zussman. Without these guys, Zussman
would just be a lot of concrete and dirt.”
“The Zussman site is an outstanding facility,” said
Alderson, vehicle commander during the mission. “The
training we got was by far some of the best and most
realistic training that I have had in my almost 16 years of
The Army’s current transformation process is
replacing the 5-117th’s tanks and Armored Personnel Carriers
with Humvees and the oldest form of APC – boots. But
having their armor taken away hasn’t lessened the Soldiers’ warrior
“I think their performance was exemplary,” Rosenberg
said. “There are lessons to be learned, and that’s
purpose of training.”
“We’ve got to do this again,” he concluded.