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    New York’s 108th Infantry sweating out ‘Blood and Iron’ at JRTC

    New York’s 108th Infantry sweating out ‘Blood and Iron’ at JRTC

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Michael Davis | New York Army National Guard Spc. Ryan Rooney, an infantryman with Co. A, 2nd...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Amy Hanna 

    New York National Guard

    FORT POLK, La. – New York Army National Guard infantrymen from the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment knew that the summer heat in Atropia would be hard. They also knew that their enemy would be harder and came prepared to battle both.

    The Soldiers are at Fort Polk’s Joint Readiness Training Center practicing their collective skills as a battalion while supporting the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s Task Force Hunter, deploying some 5,000 Soldiers into the maneuver box, known here as the fictitious country of Atropia.

    The security mission for the roughly 700 Soldiers is to help safeguard local “civilians” while neutralizing any threats from an opposing force. The battalion task force was joined by U.S. Army Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division who are augmenting the task force - reinforcing the benefits of training National Guard and active duty forces side-by-side.

    "By the end of this rotation the battalion and Soldiers will become more proficient in their assigned tasks," said Capt. John Noecker, assistant operations officer for the 2-108th Infantry. Noecker deployed to JRTC in 2000 when he served on active duty with the 10th Mountain Division.

    "I am quite impressed with how cohesive the unit is, seeing that most of them are part-time Soldiers," Noecker said, a relatively new addition to the battalions staff in the past year.

    The JRTC rotation allows Army units to conduct combat training in a realistic environment which features a well-trained opposing force, civilian role-players on the battlefield, high-tech systems that monitor the action and observer-controllers/trainers who evaluate unit actions and provide feedback and guidance.

    For many of the younger Soldiers like Pfc. John Iselo, a chemical non-commissioned officer assigned to the battalion, this JRTC rotation is his first major training event since joining the Army National Guard last year.

    "It's kind of like laser tag on steroids,” Isleo said. “I'm looking forward to it."

    Soldiers from Bravo Company, 1st. Battalion, 87th Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum were attached to the 2-108th for the JRTC rotation. Strengthening the collaborative training between active duty and National Guard Soldiers side by side.

    Sfc. Spencer Townsend, a platoon sergeant assigned to 1-87th Infantry, said his Soldiers had to adjust to working with a new battalion.
    "It’s great working with the 2-108th," Townsend said. "They’re taking really good care of us.”

    Sgt. Bernie Roberts, assigned to Bravo Co., 2-108th Infantry, said that JRTC provides a steep learning curve but that the two elements quickly learned from each other.

    "It's been fun working with the 1-87th, the cooperation is great and we work very well together," Roberts said.

    According to Sgt. Jon Sahagun, an infantryman with the 2-108th infantrymen, sharing tactics, techniques and procedures for the infantry companies isn’t easy when units are constantly on the move, under fire or simply staying hydrated in the summer heat of central Louisiana. Getting together with their active duty peers during breaks in the battle or resets for new missions helps the time pass for both units, Sahagun explained.

    “We talk to each other a lot, it helps the time go by and helps us bond by getting to know each other better," Sahagun said.

    In spite of the challenges of JRTC, including the constantly changing fragmentary orders known as fragos, the opposing forces and the weather, the battalion has lived up to its motto, “Blood and Iron.” said Staff Sgt. Nathan Shakerley, and infantryman assigned to 2-108th Headquarters Co.

    "Between the fragos and the heat, the Soldiers have done a great job and they did what they had to do to get the mission done," Shakerley said. "I'm very proud of them."

    Story by Captain Amy Hanna, 138th Public Affairs Detachment.



    Date Taken: 07.28.2016
    Date Posted: 07.28.2016 16:59
    Story ID: 205368
    Location: FORT POLK, LA, US 
    Hometown: UTICA, NY, US

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