The Longrifle Raid in Africa

Story and photos by Capt. Daniel Van Horn, Task Force Longrifles Public Affairs

Soldiers from Task Force Longrifles begin the 9 mile ruck-march as part of the Longrifle Raid on February 15th, 2013. Photo credit: Capt. Daniel Van Horn, Task Force Longrifles PAO

Soldiers from Task Force Longrifles begin the 9-mile ruck-march as part of the Longrifle Raid at Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti, Feb. 15, 2013. The march was one of several events that tested participants physical endurance, military skill and artillery knowledge.  (Kentucky National Guard photo by Capt. Daniel Van Horn, Task Force Longrifles Public Affairs)

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti — Soldiers from Task Force Longrifles will tell you that the 2013 edition of the Longrifle Raid was anything but easy.

The Longrifle Raid was started two years ago by the previous Battalion Command Sgt. Major, Thomas Chumley, and was a test of physical endurance, military skill, and artillery knowledge. Soldiers that successfully complete each event earn the right to wear the coveted Red Cord on their dress uniform.

This year’s Raid started with 27 Soldiers from across the battalion. The first event for the day was a standard Army Physical Fitness Test at 5:00 in the morning. Each Soldier had to score a minimum of 70 points in all three categories: push-ups, sit-ups, and 2-mile run. After successfully completing the APFT, Soldiers were able to get breakfast and change into a clean uniform before an inspection and drill and ceremonies competition lead by 1st Sgt. Robert Burns from Headquarters, Headquarters Battery.

Soldiers from Task Force Longrifles complete an open ranks inspection as part of the Longrifle Raid on February 15th, 2013. Photo credit: Capt. Daniel Van Horn, Task Force Longrifles PAO

Soldiers from Task Force Longrifles complete an open ranks inspection as part of the Longrifle Raid on Feb. 15, 2013 at Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti.. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Capt. Daniel Van Horn, Task Force Longrifles Public Affairs)

“Drill and ceremonies is one of the skills that a Soldier should never lose. It is a snapshot of their ability and attention to detail,” said Burns after the last squad finished his event. “Having Soldiers from different units compete as one team also helps build camaraderie and teamwork which would be important for the rest the Raid.”

The next event was the obstacle course, which gave each Soldier an opportunity to once again get dirty and sweaty. The course was a physically demanding one where Soldiers had to complete 15 push-ups, a 180-pound tire flip five times, high-crawl, low-crawl, two 30-pound ammo can carries for 20 yards, 15 ammo can raises over their head, and finally sprint 100 yards with both cans to the start of the course.

With the sun starting to really heat up, the Soldiers began preparing for their next event, a nine-mile road march with 35 pounds in their rucksack. This event proved to be the hardest of the day with several Soldiers dropping out due to the heat. The route wound its way along the perimeter of the camp with Soldiers having to make three laps in less than 2.5 hours to qualify for the next event.

“Because of the heat, distance, and weight we had to carry, the road march was by far the hardest part of the Raid,” said 1st Lt. Denis Babiyev, executive officer from Bravo Battery.

With the physically demanding part of the raid complete, the events moved to military skill and artillery knowledge and included the following tests; loading and filling a radio, call for fire, 9-line medevac, un-exploded ordinance report, and react to enemy contact

Sgt. James Osbourne looks forward as the command for dress-right dress is given. Photo credit: Capt. Daniel Van Horn, Task Force Longrifles PAO

Sgt. Bradley Osbourne looks forward as the command for dress-right dress is given during a drill and ceremonies event at Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti, Feb. 15, 2013. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Capt. Daniel Van Horn, Task Force Longrifles Public Affairs)

For Spc. Tyler Douglas an Automated Tactical Data Systems Specialist with Charlie Battery, completing the raid this year was a big goal.

“I figured this deployment would be the best time to prepare for the Raid,” he said.  “In the future, not many Soldiers will be able to say they earned it while deployed to Africa, so it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

The final event consisted of an NCO board with the battalion command sergeant major and battery 1st sergeants asking one to two questions about the unit history, military customs/courtesies, artillery facts, and warrior ethos. The day was challenging, hot, and long, but by the end of it, twenty-one Soldiers had earned the distinct privilege of calling themselves Longrifle Raiders with a braided red cord adorning their shoulders.

About kentuckyguard