Ironhorse Brigade moves forward on road to readiness

1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
Story by Capt. Angel Jackson

Date: 12.03.2013
Posted: 12.03.2013 14:02
News ID: 117672
Ironhorse Brigade moves forward on road to readiness

FORT HOOD, Texas –The 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division completed Ironhorse Rampage conducted Nov. 4 to 22, here.

Ironhorse Rampage, a brigade-wide field training exercise, served as a venue to certify or recertify company-level units on essential tasks needed prior to a rotation to the National Training Center in February.

Maj. Matt Hopper, the Ironhorse Brigade operations officer, said it’s important to get through company-level situational training exercises prior to NTC so that the brigade can focus on battalion certifications.

“Our [situational training exercises] are going to be task-force level [situational training exercises] and task-force level live fires, and then we’ll go into a brigade level force-on-force,” Hopper said. “So when we go into NTC we’re not worried about certifying companies and company live fires, we’re going in at the task force level, a step up from where we are now.”

The Ironhorse Brigade spent months training prior to Ironhorse Rampage. The brigade’s combined arms battalions, the 2nd “Lancer” Battalion, 5th Cav. Regiment and 2nd “Stallion” Bn., 8th Cav. Reg., as well as the 1st “ Dragon” Bn., 82nd Field Artillery Reg. conducted several gunnery exercises throughout the year prior to the start of Ironhorse Rampage.

The 1st Squadron, 7th “Garryowen” Cav. Reg. of the Ironhorse Bde. conducted certification exercises throughout the year as well as platoon certifications going into Ironhorse Rampage.

The brigade’s 91st “Saber” Bde. Engineer Bn. conducted three platoon certifications, and the 115th “Muleskinner” Bde. Support Bn. led a brigade support area exercise and certified its units through field logistics exercises.

Col. Steve Gilland, commander of the Ironhorse Bde., said the successful completion of Ironhorse Rampage meant the brigade is better prepared for not only NTC, but possible future operational deployments.

“With our regional alignment to the European Command and the NATO Response Force for a calendar year, we offer unique capabilities as a brigade combat team that we have to exercise through training," Gilland said. "Every Ironhorse leader and soldier must be trained and confident in their ability to engage the enemy, operate all vehicles and weapons systems effectively, and be a member of a team that can execute small unit drills instinctively. We need to be able to operate in complex environments and complete any mission required of us."

Multiple and simultaneous live-fire exercises, stability operations, aerial resupply missions, unmanned aerial surveillance, reconnaissance missions, and casualty operations were a few of the many tasks soldiers conducted during Ironhorse Rampage.

“This has been very good training,” Hopper said. “Previous rotations that I’ve been in at the National Training Center, we haven’t gotten through platoon-level certifications. So for Ironhorse this time, we’ve gotten through company, battery and troop level certifications, all simultaneous and exercising mission command from the platoon all the way to the brigade level.”

In order to ensure units received the best possible training during Ironhorse Rampage, the brigade enlisted many outside resources to include Company A, 1st Bn, 44th Air Defense Artillery Reg. and the 64th Military Police Co. of 720th MP Bn.

Soldiers from 2nd Bn, 20th FAR and Battery A, 26th FAR (Target Acquisition Battery) of the 41st Fires Bde., 1st Cav. Div. provided ground support for the exercise, and 3rd Bn., 227th Aviation Reg., 1st Air Cav. Bde. of the 1st Cav. Div. provided air support.

Ironhorse Rampage may be complete, but the exercise is only one of many lanes on the brigade’s road to readiness. The Ironhorse Brigade recently completed Steadfast Jazz 2013, a NATO exercise to certify the NATO Response Force, and, following NTC, the brigade is preparing for Exercise Rochambeau 2014, a major land force exercise in May.