Va. delegate visits 1-116th during two-week annual training

Virginia Delegate Ben Cline (R-Rockbridge) visits with Virginia Guard Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team June 15, 2013, at Fort Pickett, Va. Cline represents the 24th district and serves on the House of Delegates Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety and visited the Soldiers in order to get a better idea of the capabilities of the Virginia National Guard. During his visit with the 1-116th, Cline received a tour of the battalion’s tactical operations center, observed infantrymen and engineers during a live fire exercise and fired a sniper rifle. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Virginia Delegate Ben Cline (R-Rockbridge) visits with Virginia Guard Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team June 15, 2013, at Fort Pickett, Va. Cline represents the 24th district and serves on the House of Delegates Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety and visited the Soldiers in order to get a better idea of the capabilities of the Virginia National Guard. During his visit with the 1-116th, Cline received a tour of the battalion’s tactical operations center, observed infantrymen and engineers during a live fire exercise and fired a sniper rifle. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – Virginia Guard Soldiers from the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team were in the middle of their two-week annual training period and had a full schedule June 15, 2013, when Virginia Delegate Ben Cline (R-Rockbridge) stopped by for a visit and a chance to participate and observe some of the battalion’s training.

“These brave men and women are on the front lines protecting our nation, so it’s one of our responsibilities to make sure that they have the equipment and resources that they need to get the job done,” Cline said. “I’m here to learn, listen and hopefully take what I learn here back to my colleagues in the house and the senate.”

During Cline’s visit with the Soldiers of the 1-116th, he was able to witness and partake in a variety of training activities. He first visited the battalion’s tactical operations center and met with Soldiers working in a secure environment. He pulled a lanyard to fire a M119A2 howitzer with Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery, 116th IBCT, before trekking out to the Infantry Platoon Battle Course where he watched a live fire exercise. After the exercise, Cline had a chance to speak to the Soldiers and to thank them for their service. As a token of their gratitude, the Soldiers gifted Cline with one of their unit patches.

The grand finale of Cline’s visit was the final stop of the day, to Range 11, where 1st battalion’s snipers were set up.  Cline was able to fire a .50 caliber sniper rifle, nailing his targets.

“I hope he walks away with a better understanding of what the Soldiers do and what they go through on a typical drill weekend or during annual training,” said Lt. Col. Alan Carter, 1st Battalion commander, on Cline’s visit.

Among the priorities for the battalion’s annual training this year, was squad validation of four battle drills: attack, react to contact, movement to contact, and near and far ambush. The battalion spent the first half of AT taking care of personnel readiness and doing some initial squad level training, according to Carter, before putting the squads to the test.

“It’s a building block for our next AT,” Carter said of the squad-level validation. “Next AT is our external evaluation at the platoon level.”

In preparation for next year’s platoon level-validation, training focused on providing platoon leaders and company commanders with additional experience doing multi-echelon training and unified land operations. “We incorporate engineers, we incorporate field artillery, mortars – anything we can do to add to the scenario,” said Carter.

Sgt. Donald L. Penley, assigned to the scout platoon of the battalion’s Headquarters Company as an assistant squad leader and who helped Cline fire the sniper rifle said, “The biggest thing is experience for our new guys. They’re in the scout platoon, but they haven’t had a chance do be on sniper missions and do reconnaissance patrols.”

After a full afternoon spent with the Soldiers of the 1-116th, Carter presented Cline with a battalion coin, as a token of appreciation for spending an afternoon with Soldiers from his battalion.

“We’re trying to reach out to our local delegates and state representatives to bring them out here and let them know what our capabilities are and what the Guard can do, either here in the state, or as part of our federal mission,” Carter said. “We hope he had a great day out here.”

More from this event:

Photos: Delegate Cline visits Virginia Guard 1-116th Soldiers – June 15, 2013

Photos: Delegate Cline visits 1-111th FA during annual training – June 15, 2013