Maintenance window scheduled to begin at February 14th 2200 est. until 0400 est. February 15th


Forgot Password?

    Or login with Facebook
    Defense Visual Information Distribution Service Logo

    National Guard Soldiers get real at JRTC

    Soldiers experience realism at JRTC

    Photo By Capt. Amy Hanna | Horses casually graze along the concertina wire of Company F, 1st Battalion, 111th...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Amy Hanna 

    New York National Guard

    FORT POLK, La. – The goal of the Army is to create combat training scenarios that are demanding for Soldiers to mimic the stress, challenges and frustrations of a deployment. At Fort Polk, Louisiana, the Joint Readiness Training Center provides that realistic environment for rotations of joint and combined arms training, including this July's rotation of the New York Army National Guard's 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

    The training replicates the complexities of full spectrum operations, from the evacuation of noncombatants from a battlefield to counterinsurgency to combat operations against a well-trained opposing force. The realism for Soldiers and units helps prepare units for combat, offering lessons for Soldiers without losses.

    The JRTC goal is to develop adaptive leaders, confident units, and sharpen capabilities across the range of military operations for the combat brigade, integrating all of the combat multipliers on the battlefield, such as artillery, aviation, naval gunfire, engineering support and integrating special operations.

    With more than 120,000 acres and six live fire facilities, the training areas of JRTC offer rotational units more than seven scenarios for a deploying Army task force. Several mock towns and villages in the fictional country of Atropia feature the variety of players expected on a battlefield: a well-trained opposing forces (OPFOR), civilians, criminals, insurgents, police forces, friendly military forces and even news media role-players. Not to mention livestock, such as goats, donkeys and wild horses that share the landscape with Soldiers.

    "At one point, horses tripped our perimeter flares," said Massachusetts Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Fred Rockett, an explosives ordnance technician with the 387th Ordnance Company (EOD). The unit supported the brigade in responding to roadside bombs or improvised explosive devices during the training.

    The entire training area includes high-tech systems to monitor the action and observer-controller/trainers (OC/T) to evaluate unit actions. Using the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System, all of the weapons systems employed at JRTC have battlefield effects that require all of the routine unit functions to treat and evacuate wounded, replace equipment or resupply units.

    "Weather, heat, downpours, wind, dust, animals, humidity, they get all the realistic training they can," said JRTC OC/T Staff Sgt. Kevin Maddox from Fort Polk who has mentored units training here for four years. "They got everything thrown at them."

    Maddox has been part of 38 unit rotations to the JRTC since 2012 and had praise for the troopers from the New York Army National Guard troopers from B Troop, 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry as they maneuvered through the training area.

    "The National Guard is very good with doctrine and (their) platoon functions are great," Maddox said about the reconnaissance troopers.

    "They did good with handling OPFOR and maintaining noise and light discipline. It's impressive that they are able to maneuver the terrain like they are," Maddox said.

    In the field for his first rotation, JRTC OC/T Capt. Sam Averitt said that JRTC is one of the best training opportunities for infantry units that simply can't be replicated anywhere else. Part of the learning experience for Soldiers, Averitt said, is adjusting to integrating all of the brigade's Soldiers and resources that they've probably never worked with before.

    "It's very realistic," said Averitt. "If a vehicle goes down, you have to do the proper paperwork and maintenance and everything you would do if it actually broke down. Same goes for notional deaths. They have to literally pick them up, put them in the vehicle and bring them to the morgue, then the morgue has to do their job and go through all the steps and paperwork that they would do if it was real."

    The OC/Ts are both battlefield judges and mentors for the rotational units, offering guidance to improve the tactics and techniques as the battle unfolds.

    "The OC/Ts are very knowledgeable," said 1st. Lt. Corey McCrary, a scout platoon leader with the Louisiana Army National Guard's 2-108th Cavalry. "They bring a lot to the table."

    "Overall it's a great experience," said Sgt. Alexis Bruno, a sniper from Brooklyn, N.Y.,, assigned to the Headquarters Company of the New York Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment. "The role players make it seem real, and we're fighting in a fully functional city and interacting with residents," Bruno said.

    The civilian interactions from role-players are meant to challenge and sometimes frustrate Soldiers, said Sgt. Jacob Cutlip, a cavalry scout
    assigned to the Louisiana Army National Guard's 2nd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment.

    "A media person jumped on our vehicle and started asking questions right before we went on mission," Cutlip said. Cutlip deployed to the rotation to serve as part of the brigade's 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry, the reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition squadron based in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

    As demanding as the training can be, the rotation is great training, said New York Army National Guard Pfc. Brent Gerwitz, deployed for his first annual training as a cavalry scout with B Troop, 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry.

    "(I) got hit right away as we entered the box and was like oh, this is actually happening and its going to be like this all the time," Gerwitz said. "My training just kicked in. The OPFOR is good at what they do, they definitely trained for this, but so have we."

    Many of the Soldiers learned quickly that reactions to the local civilian role-players could have real impact on their training. Treat people in the villages harshly during the day and that same person might turn become a terrorist that night.

    "We just treat people with respect and they react to what you do," Bruno said.

    "It definitely keeps you on your toes," Gerwitz said.

    Combining the weather of the hot Louisiana summer with the pace of operations for the Soldiers, along with the stress of fighting a well-trained opposing force and adding the lack of showers, hot food and cold water, the Soldiers were faced with challenges unlike any other training event short of combat.

    "This is very realistic," said New York Army National Guard Spc. James Allen, a cavalry scout with the 2-101st Cavalry. "We are all in it together, we are all suffering."

    "It's as real as it can get," said Sgt. 1st Class Dana Meek, a cavalry scout from the 2-101st Cavalry.

    The 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and Task Force Hunter deployed for training at Fort Polk with more than 5,000 Soldiers coming from more than 30 different states for the JRTC rotation 16-08. The brigade deployed to Fort Polk July 9 for the rotation and is expected back at home armories the first week in August.



    Date Taken: 07.28.2016
    Date Posted: 07.29.2016 15:15
    Story ID: 205488
    Location: FORT POLK, LA, US 

    Web Views: 909
    Downloads: 0