Oct. 4, 2011

3-116th conducts simulation and light infantry courses at annual training

By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen   
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va. — During their two-week annual training Sept. 10-24 at Fort Pickett, Soldiers of the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team focused on several activities, including Army Warrior Tasks and individual weapons qualification, but the two focal points for the battalion were the Staff Exercise for the Headquarters Company, and Light Leaders and Light Fighters courses for the line companies.


Soldiers of the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team man the operations center Sept. 19 during a simulated exercise at Fort Pickett during the unit's annual training period. The Soldiers of 3rd Battalion successfully completed the exercise involving a completely computer-based battlefield and scenarios. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

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“The exercise has taken our infantry battalion staff through simulated training based on a stability operations environment, such as Iraq or Afghanistan in today’s mission,” said Lt. Col. Paul Gilman, battalion commander. “It’s an awesome opportunity for the Guard to train on exercises that they would encounter if they deployed overseas.”

While participating in the exercise Soldiers in a building adjacent to the operations center spent day and night entering scenarios into computer systems while the primary staff reacted to the situations in real-time. The system, known as the Joint Conflict Simulation and Training System, kept the staff on their toes by simulating anything from an improvised explosive device attack to a vehicle stopping due to a flat tire.

“Anything that can happen in the real world, we can simulate on our system,” said Donald Williams, database administrator for the JCATS. “We are running 24-hour operations and the system has not failed us yet. These Soldiers are part of one of the best groups of operators we have seen here in a long time.”

“We don’t get to pull this equipment out very much, we have a tough time pulling it out because it is a lot of equipment and a lot to learn about,” said Gilman. “This is an awesome opportunity for our Soldiers to learn how to operate these new systems, as well as for our staff primary officers to learn how to do their jobs in a real world [overseas] environment.”

While the primary staff was focusing on the exercise, Soldiers from the line companies participated in Light Leaders and Light Fighters courses. Sergeants and above trained in the Light Leaders, while privates and specialists focused on Light Fighters. The two courses, which ran concurrently, taught light infantry tactics at the squad level and focused on the individual Soldier's role in battle.


Soldiers in the Light Leaders and Light Fighters Courses taught by the Blackstone-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute assault the Fort Pickett Cherry Village training complex Sept. 19. Many of the Soldiers in the course are from the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team and are conducting two weeks of annual training. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

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“Because we have over 200 Soldiers deployed overseas for four missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, we are left with about 250 Soldiers here for our annual training, so we have a Light Leader course and a Light “Fighter course that we have coordinated and integrated with the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute here at Fort Pickett,” Gilman said. “It is outstanding training. The course is open to anyone across the country, but the entire class is 3rd Battalion Soldiers, with the exception of four Soldiers from South Carolina.”

“This annual training period we have really focused on our Soldier skills and squad level training,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Alan Ferris, 3rd Battalion command sergeant major. “The Light Leaders program trains our staff sergeants, sergeants first class and our young lieutenants on leadership through troop leading procedures, operations orders and how to train and lead Soldiers in combat operations.

“With the (Light Fighters) course, we also have the Light Fighters program, which supplements the light leaders by having our privates and specialists go through all their basic Soldier skills and Army Warrior Tasks, and shows them how they fit into the squad and how they maneuver as a squad.”

The courses culminated with a Field Training Exercise, or FTX, where the fighter worked side-by-side in a Military Operations in Urban Terrain scenario on Fort Pickett. The two classes combined to maneuver in squad-sized elements.

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