News: Utah Army National Guard soldiers complete CTE
Story by Spc. Karen Sampson
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. -When soldiers from the 65th Fires Brigade, Security Force Advisor Assistance Team, Utah National Guard arrive in Afghanistan in a few weeks, their mission will focus on mentoring Afghan border patrol officers protecting the borders of Afghanistan and Iran. So when trainer/mentors with First Army designed Utah National Guard unit's Cumulative Training Exercise, it was heavily focused around that mission.
We tailor all training exercises to contribute to the unit's mission," said Capt. Robert R. Burress, Alpha Battery Commander, 2nd Battalion, 410th Field Artillery, 177th Armored Brigade. "We find out where the unit is deploying. We talk to the unit they are replacing to find out what they experience in theater to train tactics, techniques and procedures to the incoming unit."
Trainer/Mentor's from the 177th AR Bde created a training scenario, combining support from two Apache helicopters, border patrol specific tactics, techniques and procedures and realistic enemy trends pertaining to the 65th SFA AT's deployment mission. The team exercised all these skills during their CTE at the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility.
"Our job is to advise the border patrol on their current skill set. We will also advise and assist them in expanding their force," Col. Scott Fuller, native of St. George, Utah, commander of the SFA AT mission.
The 177th T/Ms worked hard to ensure realism and relevancy in the CTE. T/Ms agree deploying Soldiers should never attempt something for the first time in theater. They prepare them for every possibility… including laying on air support, said Burress.
"In theater, this unit will spend a lot of time patrolling," Burress explained. "They have trained Joint Firing Observers who will coordinate air support if necessary. We were able to have the unit communicate with an Apache Team, Punisher 1-1 and 1-2, during their CTE."
Three officers from the 65th Fires Brigade attended Joint Fire Observer School, Ft. Sill, Okla., prior to mobilization. Part of that training was communicating with a firing team, said Capt. Brett Anderson, native of Tooele, Utah, Joint Fire Observer, 65th Fires Brigade SFA AT.
"We are trained to request and control artillery fire, as well as integrate air support into ground operations," said
Until their mobilization training with First Army Division East, Anderson added, the three Soldiers had not had the opportunity to practice those skills.
"To take what we learned in the classroom and implement it with helicopters and use a real moving convoy before we get down-range is invaluable," said Anderson. "The training was very important, and I'd say a huge sustain in the training of deploying units."
The 177th T/M's were impressed with the decisiveness the 65th Fires Bde SFA AT demonstrated in the CTE.
"The 65th SFA AT are going to do really well when they get in country," predicted Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Olsen, Trainer/Mentor, 2nd BN, 410th FA. "The 65th paid great attention to their security."
"They also have a very good grasp of the partnership concept," Olsen added. "I see them completing a successful mission."
Team members are enthused about their future mission.
"Our mission will take the team to the western part of Afghanistan," said 1st Lt. Shane Sorensen, 65th Fires Brigade SFA AT. "I'm excited by the opportunity, because the country has a lot of history."
First Army ensures mobilization training is relevant, realistic and reflects the most current conditions Soldiers face in theater. First Army Division East directly supports the Chief of Staff of the Army's priority of providing trained, equipped and ready forces to win the current fight, while maintaining responsiveness for unforeseen contingencies.