View Full Version : "25-Maze" Exercise

08-31-2005, 22:03
Found this while looking for information, thought it was interesting. Wasn’t sure where to put it but since it’s related to NG and I think it’s 20th Group I put it here.


Under the watchful eyes of his teammates, and under the protection of their firearms, one man creeps silently forward to place a charge against the doorway blocking entry to the team's objective. Seconds later the obstruction is reduced to splinters as it is engulfed by a fireball. Immediately the men push forward in a carefully choreographed movement, neither fast nor slow. As a single entity they are through the doorway and into the room ahead, each mindful of the orientation of his weapon. Every man on the team has a specific and well-rehearsed job at each point of the operation. A moment later the crack of weapons is heard, as rounds find their mark.
Through all of this there is a strange silence from the soldiers - none of the characteristic 'battle cries' we see in the movies. Words are barked out only when necessary, their almost coded meaning clear to each team member... "CLEAR"! "MOVING"! The 'dynamic entry' is over in seconds, and the objective is in the hands of Operational Detachment A (ODA) 915, Washington's own Green Berets.
This time it was a training exercise at a remote range on Fort Lewis, a specially designed building called "25-Maze", whose walls are filled with 24" of sand to absorb the live rounds fired here. But with the Reserve Component making up nearly 50% of our military, and with the ever-increasing operational tempo of the reserve component, these soldiers, like all Guardsmen, must take their mission very seriously.
"25-Maze" consists of six rooms connected by hallways, and doors. It is filled with a realistic array of furniture amongst which a series of man-sized target silhouettes will represent the enemy. The building’s roof is lifted high enough to accommodate instructors or observers by way of catwalks atop all of the walls. The facility is in constant use by the active duty Special Forces and Rangers stationed on Fort Lewis, and is a favorite training event for the Army National Guard Special Forces from Buckley.

Outside of the building, the team practices making a covered and controlled approach, using a 'multiple wedge' formation. After a couple of dry runs, they prepare for several iterations of the 'dynamic entry'.
The gravity of the training, and the seriousness of the Green Berets is clearly evident in their preparation for each assault. They silently load live 5.56mm ammunition into their 30-round magazines. Team members and observers, alike, strap on specially reinforced armor vests. The moment of truth has come. One wrong move with live ammunition can turn tough training into tragedy.
One team member has a helmet-mounted camera that tracks every turn and shot. Additionally, one of the observers will record the team's actions on another video camera from the rafters above the exercise floor. Later, the men will review the tapes for proper timing, spacing, weapon control and dozens of other details.
The team lines up against the walls outside the first doorway, facing each other. There they 'lock and load' magazines into their weapons. Only the slapping of magazines and bolts chambering rounds breaks the silence. A hand gesture from the senior observer indicates that he is ready, and a nod from the Team Leader sends the men forward.

The exercise is carried out over and over. The first time, as men leave the building, a few are late 'extracting' because they had not realized others were finished clearing their areas of responsibility. Another time, a magazine is dropped. Whether smooth or rough, each cycle is followed by an 'after-action review' and a review of the video tapes. As the evening closes in, the Guardsmen break out their night-vision goggles and continue to train, until the observers are satisfied with the performance of ODA 915.
At the conclusion of the day, there remains a ride back to the armory, and hours of cleaning weapons and other equipment. Once the adrenalin wears off, the fatigue sets in. When Monday finally rolls around, these citizen soldiers will return to their 'day jobs' - no doubt somewhat mundane following this sort of weekend.

When considering the Special Forces, the uninitiated may think first of the famous headgear. In fact, the Green Beret is rarely worn, reserved mostly for the few times these highly trained soldiers find themselves in garrison or at home station. The reality is that this is a life of long hours and days of hard, tense and dangerous training, and that a Kevlar helmet or 'boonie cap' more frequently adorns their heads than does a beret. But it all makes for some interesting weekends.

As for the Green Beret... as the recruiting posters say, "Pick it up... We dare you!" The unit has vacancies for qualified Guardsmen. Call (360) 829-2887 to speak with a unit representative. Go ahead, we dare you.