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    New York's 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team hones skills for summer training mission at Fort Drum May 19-22

    New York Soldiers hone air assault skills at Fort Drum

    Photo By Sgt. Alexander Rector | FORT DRUM – New York Army National Guard Infantrymen from Alpha Company, 2nd...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Alexander Rector 

    New York National Guard

    FORT DRUM, NY – More than 3,000 members of the New York Army National Guard’s 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, along with Soldiers from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Utah, spent four days here, May 19-22, honing their skills for a three week deployment to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk in July.

    “This four-day field training exercise gave our Soldiers one last opportunity to refine, improve and set the conditions for our success in July," said Col. Joe Biehler, the brigade commander.

    Along with the New York units, which came from armories from Long Island to Buffalo, the 1st Battalion, 182nd Infantry from the Massachusetts Army National Guard, and an element from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry, a Stryker mechanized infantry unit, also participated.

    They were backed up in the air by the New York Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion 142nd Aviation and other elements of the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, and the Utah Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 211th Aviation, an attack helicopter battalion flying the AH-64 Apache.

    A key element of the exercise was a battalion-level air assault exercise conducted by the 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry, which launched from Griffiss International Airport in Rome, N.Y. and landed at Fort Drum.

    The exercise involved utilizing UH-60 Blackhawks and CH-47 Chinooks, provided and piloted by the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, to airlift the unit's Soldiers from their staging area at the Griffiss International Airport to a simulated combat zone here at Ft. Drum. Once the first wave of Soldiers was deployed to the simulated combat area, they set themselves to work securing the landing zone for the next wave of troops.

    After the entire battalion had been transported the mission shifted gears. Each of the battalion's companies had been tasked with seizing an objective. The remainder of the mission focused on these companies clearing obstacles and assaulting objectives manned and guarded by simulated enemy combatants.

    The Soldiers from the 2-108 and the enemy combatants wore Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES) gear for the exercise.

    The gear consists of a sensor-leaden harness worn by the Soldier and a halo of sensors attached to the Soldier's helmet. In addition to these sensors, the gear also includes a laser that attaches near the muzzle of the Soldiers rifle.

    When the Soldier fires a blank, the laser fires a beam. If this beam should come into contact with one of the sensors then a hit is received and the Soldier is classified as either injured or KIA depending on the severity of the hit.

    The MILES gear enables infantrymen like those in the 2-108 to conduct realistic albeit bloodless combat training against real enemy combatants and allows the unit's combat medics to hone their skills by treating simulated battlefield injuries.

    “I've been a company commander for 18-months and this is the first time I've been able to maneuver a fully manned company in the field,” said Capt. Adam Bojarski, the Alpha Company 2-108 commander.

    “I think overall it was a good training event, and leading into JRTC, I think it made everyone aware, from the lowest private all the way up to myself, that JRTC is going to be a difficult but good training opportunity for us," he said.

    “Our main goal is to get a good grip working with Alpha Company and learn to function more efficiently as a team before we go to JRTC,” said1st Lt. Tyler Nutting a platoon leader with Charlie Company, 2-108 Infantry. “We weren't really given a lot of time to conduct rehearsals, but I think we did extremely well given the amount of time we had.”

    Nutting, along with the rest of his platoon was attached to Company A for the exercise and will be attached to Alpha again during the upcoming JRTC rotation.

    Also attached to the company for this exercise was a squad of combat engineers from A Company, 27th Brigade Special Troops Battalion.

    Combat engineers utilize different tools and explosives to clear the battlefield of any obstructions that may hinder the advance.

    “As infantryman we focus on bringing the fight to the enemy and the engineers allow us to do that,” said Bojarski, a Warners, NY resident. “They reduced an obstacle that allowed us to seize two buildings and clear the objective.”

    Once the sound of gunfire had died down and the battle was won, reflection was the theme of the day. Observer – Controller/Trainers (OC/T) were on scene to critique the mission and offer their expertise on how Alpha Company could become a more effective fighting force.

    “We had OC/Ts here from 1st Army evaluating the exercise,” said Bojarski. “Lately they've transitioned their role more into coaching and mentoring.”

    “As leaders it’s good to have someone there to look over your shoulder and bring up key points that you can improve on or things you did well,” said Bojarski. “When you develop your training in the future you know what you need to focus on and what you already have accomplished.”

    While commending Alpha Company for its successful mission, many of the OC/Ts stressed the importance of pre-mission planning.

    “What I asked the company to do was focus on two things: decisive decision-making and violence of action,” said Bojarski

    “With the Guard we have a compressed time schedule. The muscle memory that you need to be able to do the small things right 100% of the time just isn't there. I want the leaders to focus on those two things to ensure we're successful when we conduct operations at JRTC," Bojarski.

    Joining the 2-108 on its mission was Maj. Gen. Harry Miller, the 42nd Infantry Division commander. In addition to traveling with the unit on one of the Blackhawks to Ft. Drum, Miller also stayed and observed many of the company field training exercises and offered his encouragement and guidance to the Soldiers.

    “You have an outstanding company, great leadership, and great Joes,” said Miller. It’s OK to make some mistakes, but now's the time to kick the cobwebs off, because it’s game time.”



    Date Taken: 05.20.2016
    Date Posted: 05.24.2016 10:00
    Story ID: 198881
    Location: FORT DRUM, NY, US 
    Hometown: SYRACUSE, NY, US

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