News: ‘Bastogne’ Brigade trains for high altitude at Fort Carson
Story by Staff Sgt. Craig Cantrell
FORT CARSON, Colo. – Enduring rain, snow, high winds and the blazing high plains sun, the soldiers of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, trained in the mountains of Fort Carson to prepare for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
The 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, traveled from Fort Campbell, Ky., to train at Fort Carson for the first time in a high altitude climate similar to the terrain of Afghanistan.
The 1st BCT is scheduled to rotate all of its’ maneuver units through the mountain training by mid-April before completing a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La.
“I’m hoping that being set in this environment and doing mission after mission, (the troops) understand what the tempo could be,” said 2nd Lt. Patrick Scott, fire support officer, Company D, 1st Bn., 327th Inf. Regt.
Soldiers trudged through the mud and snow to reach the objectives, where a variety of scenarios presented situations unique to their upcoming mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“You can do the basic battle drills anywhere, but coming out to a place like this that mimics the terrain of Afghanistan, this is better for us,” said Scott.
The Bastogne Brigade ran four scenario based lanes incorporating a company-size air assault at one of the training sites, coordinating with the101st Combat Aviation Brigade, currently conducting High Altitude Mountain Environmental Training in the Rocky Mountains west of Fort Carson.
“It’s a lot of movement to contact, Key Leader Engagements, movements to positions of interest, gathering information, and neutralizing homemade explosive sites,” said Scott.
Infantry soldiers practiced battle drills and movement techniques while on patrol, interacting with role-players posing as Afghan National Army.
“The training enhanced our movement techniques and strengthened the relationship between our unit and the ANA,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Rudo, platoon sergeant, Company D.
The Bastogne Brigade assembled a 14-person Female Engagement Team with the mission to interact with local Afghan women a month prior to training at Fort Carson, explained Sgt. Nazia Samat, health care specialist, 1st BCT FET.
Since male soldiers are not allowed to have contact with Afghan women FET’s are used to gain the Afghan female perspective, she said.
“The FET objective is to talk to the local Afghan women and ask them general questions about how they feel about their government, their way of living, crops and any difficulties they are experiencing,” said Samat.
The FETs, ANA role-players and infantry soldiers worked together during the scenarios in the difficult environment to accomplish their mission.
“Fort Carson provided us some great land to train, and terrain that is difficult, but definitely good training,” said Rudo.
While visiting his troops at Fort Carson, Maj. Gen. James McConville, commanding general, 101st Airborne Division, expressed approval of the training.
“The level of realistic training the Bastogne Brigade experienced during the exercise will leave (some of the soldiers) underwhelmed during their rotation to JRTC,” said McConville.