News: TF Thunder prepares for OEF deployment at the National Training Center
Story by 1st Lt. Lindsay Roman
FORT IRWIN, California – The 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, Task Force (TF) “Thunder”, participated in National Training Center (NTC) rotation 12-09 in support of 1st Brigade, 1st Armor Division (1/1 AD), Fort Bliss, Texas, from July 27 through Aug. 25.
The installation's vast landscape, scorching heat, and real Afghan role players will help to improve the awareness and knowledge these soldiers will use when the battalion deploys to Afghanistan in early 2013.
During the grueling seven days of Reception, Staging, Onward-movement & Integration, the unit prepared to head into what they call “The Box,” a highly realistic training environment.
The technical and intelligence collection teams went through Situational Training Exercises (STX) while the battalion’s headquarters supported 1 AD, serving as the rotational division Headquarters, and 1/1 AD as the battle space integrator.
These STX lanes provided prime opportunity to train signals, human, and counter-intelligence tasks with ever increasing difficulty and complexity as the unit partnered with U.S. and Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) security elements.
This operational environment created by the expert trainers at NTC provided the right stimulus for the soldiers that operate on the battalion’s multi-functional, low level voice intercept, human intelligence, and counterintelligence teams; in addition to exercising the battalion headquarters, subsequent intelligence collection during force-on-force provided maneuver battalions valuable practice with assets that will support them down range.
“Our relationship with 1/1 AD commanders are critical so we put our teams with the same battalions in training that they’ll support in Afghanistan,” said Lt. Col. Kevin A. McAninch, Commander of the 519th. “We began our partnership with 1/1 AD in January 2012 and sent a team to support 3-41 Infantry during their Iron Focus exercise. This set the foundation to build the team for combat in support of Col. Adgie, commander of 1st Brigade.”
In all, the NTC training environment – a world-class facility and capability – will hone TF Thunder from the individual to the collective level. “NTC was tough, realistic, and worth every effort we put into it. It is our Army’s premier training venue and we’re fortunate to test ourselves here in preparation for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF),” said McAninch. “Every day we learn something about the employment of our task force while also building leaders ready for the rigors of combat. NTC was top-notch.”
The deployment to NTC was also historic.
“I’m told we’re the first MI Battalion in over 5 years to come through a NTC rotation” added McAninch. “I find that surprising and only hope we find a way to add other Multi-functional Brigade (MfB) Battalions in future rotations.”
“What I want to do is take the lessons learned here and not make the same mistakes down range,” said CPT Rolando Gutierrez, Commander of Charlie Company, 519th Military Intelligence Battalion. Ultimately, the resources of the National Training Center coupled with being a part of the 1/1 AD team have prepared TF Thunder and they are more ready than when they arrived.