Subterranean Training

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    Photos & Story by PFC Erik Warren



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    Photos & Story by PFC Erik Warren


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    Photos & Story by PFC Erik Warren




A series of tunnels, blasted out of the earth by engineers after World War II, lay carved into a mountain at West Fort Hood. The complex was initially created to store part of the U.S's nuclear arsenal during the Cold War, but Jan. 11, Soldiers from Ironhawk Troop, 3rd Squadron, 3d Cavalry Regiment had a chance to "train as we fight" in a location few people know about, and even fewer have stepped foot in.


"We went in to raid the tunnel complex; it was crazy and much better than going to a range," said Pfc. Dwight Donahue a Squad Automatic Weapon gunner for 1st Platoon, Ironhawk Trp, 3rd Sqdn, 3d Cav Reg. "It was dark and loud. Moving around in there with the grenade simulators echoing off the walls and the '249s firing was very intense."


Workers drilled explosives into the mountain to build the tunnel complex. After detonation they would go in and clear out the debris and rock. Next the workers would secure the newly formed section with rebar and pour 18-inch-thick concrete walls. This continued section by section until completion where the tunnel system stretched for well over 1.2 miles and 7,500 square feet.


The facility was used from 1948 till the mid 60's to maintain and store nuclear weapons similar to 'Fat Man' and 'Little Boy', the bombs that where detonated over Nagasaki and Hiroshima. After decommissioning, the tunnels where shortly used as office space until they were made into a training facility.



Realistic training enables Soldiers to perform more efficiently on the battlefield. This event is one day of a larger training operation which also included recon missions, an air movement and live fire.

"Having an opposition force gives the guys a real world scenario. It makes the guys pay attention to detail," said Sgt. David Silva, a squad leader for first platoon. "They focus on their jobs and knowing what the man to their left and right are doing. Often in training scenarios that don't have an enemy force the small details get overlooked."

"There is power in this type of training," said Capt. Kyle Stockwell, the  Ironhawk troop commander. "This is directly replicated in theater."