PFC Laird: Top 5 29th Infantry Division Missions
As I approach a year since enlisting with the 29th Infantry Division’s Arma 3 company, I wanted to look back at my five favorite drills and missions since I started here based on how much I personally enjoyed them and their uniquity. These are the missions which, despite being just one among the hundreds of drills I have been a part of here, were the most memorable.
A good drill is described as one which combines the key aspects of the 29th: realism, enjoyment, and education. While, of course, the most memorable drills will be the ones which focused on the enjoyment aspect, the creators of these exercises remembered to not just limit it solely to the participants having fun, and took it a step further than just having the team “attack/defend a point.”
With this in mind, let’s begin.
5.) 29th Battle Royale
We start with a drill based heavily on the popular Arma 3 game mode, ‘Battle Royale’, created by PLAYERUNKNOWN. Everyone in the platoon arranged themselves into teams of three before each group was spawned out onto a random place on the map with the objective of being the first team to reach the helicopter in the middle for extraction. Around the map could be found such things as crashed helicopters, loot crates, and compounds with enemy AI from which the teams could find better weapons from, with everyone beginning merely with a simple Mosin-Nagant rifle.
Our team were not so lucky on the first round, being picked off one-by-one as we decided to travel the wrong way. On the second round, we made our way to a small compound where we began engaging the AI there. After some well placed shots by yours truly, we made our way to the many armored personnel vehicles situated on the compound that we had assumed were locked. To our amazement, not only were they able to be used, but they were also stocked with anti-tank launchers and there was even an apache helicopter on-site: with two seats.
Playing the role of escaped convicts perfectly, the two of us able to reach the helicopter first were forced to leave our not-so-lucky third teammate behind as we flew to freedom. Thrilled with our victory for all of 30 seconds, karma quickly caught up as we plunged into the side of a mountain moments later. It’s the hilarity of the situation as well as the lessons learned - never leave a teammate behind and manage your time - which have put this drill fifth on the list.
4.) The Fast and the Mildly Irritated
This drill, admittedly out of place by 29th standards, took place solely within the confines of a single bridge stretching out between two separate islands. Both teams were bestowed with a series of vehicles at their disposal, with the task of simply getting as many of these vehicles as possible to the other end of the bridge while stopping the enemy from doing the same. As simple and ‘impractical’ as this sounded, our tactical attempts of drafting carefully laid plans and even ‘flanking’ attempts (swimming around the bridge) proved to be futile, as everyone on both teams instead opted to ‘just drive forward’; thus ensued a cacophonous display of chaos and hysteria, with humvees, trucks, MRAPs, and quad-bikes being attempted to be used as jets.
As fun as it was constantly slamming two vehicles into each other and then picking off the soldiers who dismounted, lessons were learned and mistakes were surely made, and it is for the inadvertent education from this drill with the mixture of vehicular pandemonium and shooting which have put this on the list.
3.) 29th Days Later
Once a year on Halloween, the 29th scraps the realism and hosts an apocalyptic drill centered around the undead’s hypothetical influence on the real world. In what can only be described as a chaotic bloodbath, 2016’s mission saw the entire company jumbled up into random squads with the objective of moving into an unknown location which would be revealed gradually as the company discovered more intel.
Each soldier was given very limited ammo and medical supplies, which a lot of people did not keep in mind, finding themselves having no option but to run away from hordes of thirsty zombies in the thick darkness with nothing to defend themselves with. Those that were more conservative still faced many issues as the mission progressed: with the undead approaching from each direction and only being visible up-close without any light sources, many people were killed off due to friendly fire as everyone scrambled to keep the zombies at bay. As tempting as it constantly was to switch on the light attached to the rifle to take a peek out into the unknown abyss, no one did so with the knowledge that it would only attract every walker within the area.
After a thrilling two-hour mission involving the loss of many friends and partners I had fought with on that night, we finally made it to the town of ‘Kore’ in Altis which we hoped would be stocked within ammunition, supplies, and safety. Held up upstairs in a run-down house merely barricaded with a small sandbag wall, the few of us that were left could do nothing but wait in anxiety for anything: for help or for death. Eventually, a small horde managed to pick up our bloody scent as they came crawling up the stairs for us. Completely out of ammo, the only option I had left was to run. In a series of instances which have managed to place this mission on this list, I darted past the zombies busy trying to take a bite out of my friends and scurried out of that house. Tailed by what felt like hundreds of hungry demons, I ran and ran through each alleyway and each street, not looking back once to see if I had lost them as their distorted moans assured me that I had not, eventually beginning to slow down due to fatigue. Suddenly, just when I had almost been caught up, a Chinook appeared from within the distance beginning to spray tracer rounds down towards the streets, knocking down each zombie surrounding me like bowling pins.
While it’s hard to argue that this drill had a focus on 'realism', the desperation it created as it progressed certainly made it educational as everyone quickly learned from their mistakes of emptying the limited magazines they were given and not checking who they were firing at. It’s these fortuitous reasons, as well as its enjoyment, which have placed it on this list.
2.) Apocalypse 'Then'
Albeit not an official 29th drill, I still felt as if this deserved a spot on the list. The 75th Ranger Regiment played host in an epic operation using the Arma 3 mod, ‘Unsung’, focusing around the Vietnam war. The event saw attendance from a few other units, as well as the developers of the mod themselves and a few YouTubers.
Beginning in a small military base surrounded by a towering jungle, we all began preparing our gear as normal before we began embarking in a group of small boats. My assumptions that this would materialize as a ‘normal’ Arma 3 mission were soon blown completely out of the water when Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ began playing as a storm of helicopters passed overhead. The next few action-packed hours would become some of the best experiences I have ever had in gaming as we all felt as if we were living in ‘Apocalypse Now’. Tasked with hunting for Viet Cong, as well as repelling their forces closer to the end, the operation saw a huge array of violent displays as I began to question my own emotional capabilities to continue playing.
The event culminated in one of the most cinematic experiences ever seen in a video game, with the crash land of a Bell H-13 Sioux light helicopter rendering myself and others unconscious on the jungle floor, accompanied by the screams of those witnessing the disaster, as we were instantly flown back to base for medical help.
It was these occurrences during the mission of pure emotion, realism, and enjoyment which would have made it a sin to have left it off this list, for its organization consummated it as the epitome of what Arma 3 is capable of in terms of a military simulation.
1.) Lost Tourists
My top pick was a drill I was merely a guest in. It lands itself at the number one spot due to its originality, being something I had never done before in the 29th and not done since, and due to how much action, comedy, and participation was packed into a single hour. We began by dressing up as simple civilians with the objective of role playing as lost tourists passing through a military roadblock which was guarded by the members of CP2S1. While passing through, we would look through the area and try to spot anything useful inside while causing a commotion.
Sure enough, hilarity ensued when me and PFC Jones were stopped at the roadblock, beginning to stage an argument about whose fault it was in getting us lost. Our loud escapades and refusals to remove ourselves from our vehicle proved successful, with the chaos attracting many soldiers, and even an officer, to try and sort the situation out while a marksman on our team was able to take a closer look into the compound with everyone distracted.
Our masterfully acted ramblings continued for minutes until we were eventually freed from the handcuffs we had been placed in, and allowed to continue. The drill, which had already solidified for me as one of the most enjoyable I had ever been to, then concluded with an all-out assault from our team using the information we had collected from our pass through. After an intense battle involving A-10 jets, attack helicopters, and mortars, we were able to run the other team out of the roadblock and declare it a well-fought victory.
Due to the variation of activity and focuses during this drill, as well as its educational aspect and uniqueness, this drill has deservedly earned its place at the top of my list.
Written by PFC Laird.
Edited by PFC Svenson.
Formatted by PFC Laird.