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V Corps Release

Release Date: 5/11/2004

By Spc. Andrew Meissner 1st Armored Division Public Affairs Office

WITH TASK FORCE 1-37 ARMOR, Iraq -- Navigating down hallways and securing rooms, the Soldiers of of V Corps' C Company, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, yell out their positions to each other.

Each has an assigned task. The team spreads down the walls until all corners have been locked down and secured.

But the "house" they've just secured isn't really real. It consists of two-dimensional "walls" made of strips of white engineer tape pinned into the ground in assorted rectangular shapes.

It's known as a "glass house." And though it may be just a life-sized drawing of a floor plan, but the action inside is just as real to these Soldiers as if it had walls of plaster and stone.

The company operates out of Camp Lima, near Karbala, as part of Task Force 1-37 Armor in support of Operation Iron Saber.

Glass houses are not new to these Soldiers. They've trained with them at home in Germany. However, the configuration and floor plan of an Iraqi home is radically different from plans used for European structures.

There, Soldiers training for urban operations used western-style house floor plans; nothing like what they found when they arrived in Baghdad almost a year ago.

"The first house that we came into in Iraq -- we were so surprised at the layout," said Staff Sgt. Rogelio Cortes, the company's 2nd Platoon squad leader. "It was a lesson learned. After we did our first house raid, we had to adjust how we thought it would look."

Keeping the company's Soldiers safe while accomplishing their tasks is paramount to Cortes. Proper and repeated training is how that goal is achieved, he said.

"I want them to be proficient, so that once we get into a room we can dominate it," Cortes says. "This way we create a foothold for the rest of the platoon or another squad to come through safely."

Despite the heat and unknown terrain here, the Soldiers of the 1/36th have a job to do, and they say they've found that fighting in an urban environment is one of the most challenging jobs a Soldier can encounter.

"It's very, very hard to train for an urban fight," said team leader Spc. Michael Shea. "There are a lot of new techniques. (The only way to learn) is by repetition."

Spc. Dennis Wells said the drill is a key training tool for his squad.

"It teaches us how to deal with combat in an urban environment, clear a room, take down the enemy," says Wells. "We've had a lot of training on the job, as well as (in simulated) courses like this."

Despite the challenge and dangers found in urban warfare, Wells said it's all just part of being an infantryman.

"I wanted to be in the infantry," he said. "I joined at 25 years old, and I'm 28 now. It's what I want to do."

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