News: Annual training reveals important truths
Story by Staff Sgt. Les Newport
By Staff Sgt. Les Newport
Camp Atterbuy Public Affairs
CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - As many Indiana National Guard units prepare for deployment during annual training rotations this summer, others turn to more familiar pursuits. 2nd Battalion, 200th Infantry finished two weeks of training at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, but according to unit commander Capt. Michael Hall, it is nowhere near business as usual for the 200th Infantry.
"This has been two weeks of great training for them," said Hall. "They have accomplished all we planned and more."
Hall points to the numbers of his infantrymen, particularly non-commissioned officers, that have been deployed in the last several years and bring experience and knowledge to their mission training Soldiers.
"This has always been a strong unit, but we are definitely stronger," said Hall.
The 200th spent much of their two-week training engaged in squad competition that involved a series of challenges aimed primarily at improving decision-making processes, according to Hall.
"There were no right and wrong responses. But we put them in demanding scenarios that required them to make a choice," said Hall. "Then they had to defend that choice."
Staff Sgt. Edward Risner, a platoon sergeant, who deployed to Afghanistan in 2005, said he was pleased with the unit's performance, especially the new, younger Soldiers. Risner evaluated performance on a live fire range, reaction to direct fire and indirect fire, and reacting to a sniper attack among other scenarios.
"We ran two iterations," said Risner, "Between the first and second they improved so much we knew we were on the right track."
Risner also said that the opportunity to train at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center brought new opportunities previously unavailable. The recently established facility forty-five miles to the southeast of Camp Atterbury has become integral to battle training for the armed forces.
Risner described the facility as providing "endless possibilities" for training units and as especially relevant because of the urban environment.
"Duplexes, two and three story buildings with basements, tunnels, it's just a wide variety of opportunities, and not just for squad-level training,' said Risner. "You can do tactical training for a whole company there, a whole battalion."
Pvt. 1st Class Avery Bailey, an assistant gunner with 1st Platoon, has been with unit for less than two years and says the NCOs of the 200th often seed the training with lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan. Bailey said the younger Soldiers in the unit do not take the advice lightly.
According to Bailey his leaders can be demanding when it comes to missions, but knows they are motivated to help him become the best Soldier he can. "If I do deploy, I'll be more ready," said Bailey.
1st Sgt. David Bratt served as an embedded tactical trainer in 2005, training soldiers of the Afghanistan national army. Bratt said that as good as annual training is for the younger Soldiers in the 200th, it is also important for his battle veterans. He agreed that battle drills and annual training is gratifying, even therapeutic, for trainers and evaluators because it gives them a way to share their experiences for a purpose.
"It's always good to be able to save someone's life," said Bratt. "That's a good thing."