Live Fire Training in Selah
If you hear gunshots and explosions coming from the Selah area, don't be alarmed.
Soldiers are spending the next few weeks at the Yakima Training Center as part of an annual training period.
For the next two weeks, rifle fire, and tank blasts are all that you will hear coming from the Yakima Training Center. Amidst the gunfire and explosions, you'll find Alexander Callahan; a native of Richland, and a veteran of the Iraq war. "I was 19 years old when I went overseas, so I was right out of high school," said Callahan, "It's a whole new world that you've got to get used to. You get a big shot of reality when you get out there."
Callahan and other soldiers in the 161st infantry are spending these next few days training in vehicles and in squad scenarios.
Today's exercise involved maneuvering through a village and neutralizing enemy targets, while avoiding any civilian casualties.
While the drill is strictly theoretical, the criticism is harsh; the battalion has a reputation to live up to. The unit has been deployed to Iraq twice in the past 7 years, they also come to the Yakima Training Center one weekend a month and for two weeks a year; anything to help the soldiers keep their skills sharpened just in case.
"We have to stay trained and knowledgeable, we have to integrate new soldiers all the time, and make up for the soldiers that are retiring, and some of our more senior guys getting out," said Captain Nicholas Stuart, "It's an evolving force and it's important that we maintain a high level of proficiency so we can meet the needs of our country overseas."
For many soldiers like Alexander Callahan, it's more than just fighting to defend our freedom, it's also to defend our future. "This is a big thing for my family; I have two kids and a wife, and I hope they never have to go through any of it," said Callahan.