June 30, 2010

116th BCT units wrap up annual training at Fort Pickett

From Staff Reports

FORT PICKETT, Va. — Virginia Guard Soldiers from various units throughout the Staunton-based 116th Brigade Combat Team converged on Fort Pickett June 5- 25 for three weeks of annual training. All units also participated in new equipment fielding and training, Equal Opportunity classes, Unit Movement Officer classes, driver's training and Combat Lifesaver training, among others. In addition to individual weapons qualification and individual Army Warrior Tasks, Soldiers from the BCT trained on a number of different skill sets at the squad, platoon and company level.

 

Soldiers of the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team conduct air assault operations at Fort Pickett, Va. June 22, 2010 during their three-week annual training period. During the annual training the Soldiers focused on individual, squad, platoon, and company level training. The air assault operation was a culmination of the training and focused on multiple companies working together and had Soldiers securing objectives after being flown in on CH-47 Chinook helicopters. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs) 

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“I don't recall an AT where we've been able to successfully complete this many challenging and relevant training events,” said Lt. Col. William Zana, former commander of the 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team and brigade officer in charge for the Fort Pickett training. “In part because of having three weeks instead of the normal two, but more importantly because the junior leaders and Soldiers really made great use of excellent training facilities, available time and resources, and seized the opportunity."

Because much of the BCT’s senior staff was at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., for training, the three weeks at Fort Pickett offered a great opportunity for junior leaders to assume additional responsibilities and perform at higher levels, according to Zana.

“Everyone has really done a superb job and stepped up their performance,” he said.

Soldiers from the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment conducted a mortar live fire exercise, a convoy live fire exercise and improvised explosive device training. The unit offered its Soldiers the opportunity to work on land navigation skills, Humvee rollover training and the rappel tower. The battalion’s units also participated in live-fire shoot-house training, road marches, and its Scouts trained on their sniper weapon systems.

 

Soldiers of the Virginia Army National Guard's 429th Brigade Support Battalion conduct weapon familiarization at Fort Pickett, Va. during their annual training June 11, 2010. The Soldiers fired the M-2 .50 caliber machine gun, the M-240B machine gun, the M-249 squad automatic weapon and the new M-320 grenade launcher. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs) 

Click HERE to see more photos from the event.

"When we went to the shoot house, we were there until we couldn't be there anymore. You could really see the progression," said 1st Sgt. Charles Lathrop, Company C, 3-116th. "By watching the video in the after action review you could see how good they looked. You would never know they were National Guard and they do this only one weekend a month."

Troops from 3-116th also had the opportunity conduct an air assault operation, where they flew in on CH-47 Chinook helicopters to secure their objectives. The operation was the culmination of their training and focused on multiple companies working together.

"This annual training has been pretty much up to the company commanders to take their units and work them from individual level training all the way up to collective level training at platoon level," said Command Sgt. Maj. Alan Ferris, command sergeant major of the 3-116th. "As an infantry battalion, this is where we make our money. We have junior leaders, our NCOs, out and they have a chance to actually run their teams and run their squads and their platoons, especially in live-fire exercises. That's where they really learn to do what they need to do in combat operations."

"This is probably, at the company level, one of the best annual trainings we've had," Ferris added.

In addition to their Army Warrior Tasks, such as land navigation, individual weapons qualification and urban operations, Soldiers of the Hampton- based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery performed weapons emplacement drills, urban tactical training, including an urban IED lane, and entry control point operations. The battalion also conducted Army Combatives training during the annual training period, where its Soldiers had the opportunity to improve their hand-to-hand combat skills.

 

Soldiers of the Charlottesville-based Company C, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team practice loading and unloading casualties on a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in preparation for a Mass Casualty exercise June 16. The Soldiers of "Charlie Med" performed the exercise as part of their three-week annual training at Fort Pickett, Va. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs) 

Click HERE to see more photos from the event.

The Danville- based 429th Brigade Support Battalion offered its Soldiers the opportunity to become familiar with a number of different weapons. Soldiers from the battalion fired the M-2 .50 caliber machine gun, the M-240B machine gun, the M-249 squad automatic weapon and the new M-320 grenade launcher.

Soldiers from Headquarters Company, 429th BSB also used their annual training to stake their claim as one of the Army’s best food service organizations. The unit competed in the Philip A. Connelly Competitions for excellence in Army Food Service.

The Charlottesville-based Company C, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, used annual training to prepare the company for combat health support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. During the second week of AT, the Soldiers of Charlie Med deployed to the military operations in urban terrain site, where they established field medical operations. They also conducted a mass casualty exercise, where nearly 40 "casualties" were triaged, transported via air or ground, treated, and transferred to higher echelon. Two days later, the Soldiers also conducted a night time mass casualty exercise. Company C also conducted combat medic lanes and graduated 41 combat lifesavers for the 429th BSB.

 

Soldiers of the Hampton-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery, 116th Brigade Combat Team engage in hand-to-hand combat at Fort Pickett June 22, 2010 during their three-week annual training. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs) 

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The Soldiers of Company C also provided real-world medical support to other 116th BCT units on the ground at Fort Pickett. In all, they treated more than 250 real-world patients during the three-week period while simultaneously conducting training operations and support missions.

The 429th BSB performed an incredible amount of maintenance and services on many equipment items helping to improve the overall readiness rate of the BCT, according to Zana. The unit also completed all of its training while continuing to provide logistic support to all of the other units in the brigade. As an example, Soldiers from the 429th BSB completed 107 vehicle repairs, served more than 9,000 meals, and drove more than 20,000 miles during annual training. 

“The units have really enjoyed an incredible variety of great training opportunities, ranging from live-fire shoot-house, urban training, and complex collective training scenarios, to weapons qualification, counter-IED, and a myriad of other tasks,” Zana said. “They've also worked in close cooperation with one another to cross-level workloads and opportunities - benefitting all.”

“Our Soldiers possess outstanding deployment experiences and we see them leveraging what they've learned in combat operations to ensure they get the most out of their limited training time,” he added. “The investment they're making during AT through their continued hard work and dedication will definitely pay great dividends during their next activation.”

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