News: Dragon brigade Soldiers stay trained, ready in Iraq
Story by Sgt. Shantelle Campbell
TIKRIT, Iraq – During a pre-deployment brief inside King’s Field House at Fort Riley, Kan., last year, Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, the Task Force Marne commander, out of Fort Stewart, Ga., referred to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division as the “closers.”
Since deploying to the Salah ad Din province, last fall, the ‘Dragon’ brigade has lived up to the connotation by returning 12 former U.S. military forward operating bases to the Iraqi government and overseeing a successful parliamentary election in March.
The success of the brigade is due in large part to the leaders who have not allowed complacency by continuing to train their Soldiers throughout the deployment.
As part of that training, Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4IBCT conducted a weapons zero and qualification range, June 15-18 at Contingency Operating Base Speicher.
“Anytime you can [conduct] individual training or collective training during peacetime, back in [garrison] or in combat; it keeps the Soldiers on edge, and it makes sure their skills are honed,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael S. McCoy, the top non-commissioned officer of the ‘Dragon’ brigade.
Staff Sgt. Justin Sloan, the brigade intelligence NCO and the range safety non-commissioned officer in charge with HHC, 4IBCT said that training conducted while in theater is very important because it keeps Soldiers focused and mitigates complacency by breaking up the monotony of an everyday routine.
“It’s critically important, especially while you’re in theater, to [continue to train],” said the Lawrenceville, Ga., native.
“You have to go back and re-instill the discipline and the marksmanship that’s necessary to maintain your soldiering skills,” he added.
In order to qualify, each Soldier had to achieve a minimum score of 23 out of 40 by engaging 50 to 300 mm targets from three different firing positions: the prone-supported, the prone-unsupported and kneeling.