3-116th Soldiers get back to basics during annual training

Guardsmen from Virginia’s Company B, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team prepare to conduct a team live fire exercise June 19th at Fort A.P. Hill. The Soldiers went through the course three times, first without ammunition, then with blanks, and finally with live rounds. The Soldiers are training at Fort A.P. Hill as part of their two-week annual training period. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT A.P. HILL, Va. — Soldiers from the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team spent two weeks of their summer perfecting skills that will enable them to fight and win in combat.

During their two-week annual training June 9-23 at Fort A.P. Hill, the infantry battalion participated in training that included Army Warrior Tasks, team live-fire exercises, reflex training, hand grenades, urban assault courses and mortar ranges.

“Our focus this year was getting back to the basics,” said Maj. Kurt Kobernik, battalion executive officer, who explained that many of the Soldiers in his unit had deployed within the past year to both Iraq and Afghanistan in support of multiple overseas missions. “We gave up about 174 Soldiers to support the [Task Force 183] mobilization to Iraq and then the brigade mobilization to Afghanistan and we also gave up seven Soldiers that went to support the [Provincial Reconstruction Team Security Force] mission.”

With so many Soldiers gone over that past years’ training cycle, 3rd Battalion’s senior leadership decided to “take these guys down to ground zero,” focusing on squad level training and staff section training, according to Kobernik.

In addition to the large number of recently returned Soldiers, the unit also includes many Soldiers new to the military.

“We have a lot of relatively new Soldiers in the unit. We’ve got a lot of guys who graduated basic within the last year,” said 1st Lt. Peter Bruner, a platoon leader from Company B and officer in charge of the team live fire exercise. “This is really a new experience for them and it’s great because we’re able to shape them and to teach them the right way to do things.”

The team live fire exercise, one of the culminating events for the unit, enabled Soldiers to engage targets in rugged terrain. The Soldiers were able to go through the course first without ammunition in order to gain familiarization with the course, then with blank rounds, and finally, with live rounds.

“It’s building their confidence to maneuver with live rounds,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hardgrove, a Company B platoon sergeant and noncommissioned officer in charge of the team live fire exercise.
“It’s not like a fixed range where you and your targets are stationary. You have to interact with your environment. The team leader has to maneuver his team to maintain fire on the enemy and the safety of his troops.”

Along with the team live fire exercise, Soldiers also conducted squad tactical exercises and field training exercises, qualified on all of their crew served weapons and qualified 14 drivers through a 40 hour program. The training culminated in a challenging 12-mile ruck march.

The mortarmen of 3rd Battalion were also kept busy during annual training, executing 116 day and night missions and firing over 1,500 rounds.

“Overall, I think we really accomplished a lot,” Kobernik said.

View photos from the training on flickr:

116th BCT infantrymen conduct team live fire exercise:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157630237577760/

116th BCT Soldiers conduct mortar live fire exercise:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157630240734286/