116th IBCT Soldiers to focus on platoon level exercises during annual training

Soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team set up the squadron command post June 11, 2014, in preparation for the eXportable Combat Training Capability rotation to be conducted during annual training at Fort Pickett, Va. (Contributed photo)

Soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team set up the squadron command post June 11, 2014, in preparation for the eXportable Combat Training Capability rotation to be conducted during annual training at Fort Pickett, Va. (Contributed photo)

STAUNTON, Va. — Throughout Virginia, Soldiers of the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team have been conducting continuous and rigorous training in preparation for the brigade’s eXportable Combat Training Capability rotation June 14-27, 2014, at Fort Pickett, Va.

XCTC is an instrumented combat-readiness program that assesses the Soldier’s necessary skills prior to deployment. It will serve as a culminating training event during the brigade’s annual training as platoons are externally evaluated on many tasks necessary to build on for next year’s company validations, said Maj. Kurt Kobernik, operations officer for the 116th IBCT.

The rotation will run for 10 days with up to 10 live-fire lanes and approximately 40 situational training exercise lanes, Kobernik said. All of the lanes will build on the platoon’s ability to conduct troop leading procedures and fundamental tasks appropriately.

Extensive planning has gone in to coordinating the approximately 2,300 Soldiers from across six battalions.

Aside from the brigade’s battalions, two active-duty units will be participating in the exercise. Soldiers of 188th Training Support Brigade, First Army Division-East, U.S. Army Forces Command out of Fort Stewart, Ga., will evaluate the units during the exercises. First Army advises, assists, and trains reserve component units to achieve readiness requirements during both pre- and post-mobilization.

Acting as the opposing forces for the evaluations, 2nd Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., will arrive ahead of 116th IBCT Soldiers to prepare.

Units throughout the 116th IBCT have maximized training opportunities to prepare Soldiers for the numerous aspects of the evaluations including platoon validations, combined arms operations, job specific skill sets and real-world conditions.

“To be successful in this year’s platoon validations you need strong, knowledgable platoon leaders, platoon sergeants, and squad leaders– which we have,” said Capt. Sid Leslie, commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment.

XCTC’s exercises are designed to focus on multi-component integrated collective training and the 116th IBCT has a wide array of capabilities they can bring to the battle field and all will be tested.

“This is the first time in a while we’ve reintegrated with maneuver battalions, and shown how useful we are as a combat multiplier,” said Capt. Neal Sutliff, commander of the 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion’s engineer company.

XCTC will not only assess basic Soldier skills, but job specific skill sets as well. The brigade’s numerous specialty units, such as the medical Soldiers of Company C, 429th Brigade Support Battalion have been sharpening their expertise. They pushed their resources to the limits during a mass casualty evacuation exercise April 5 at Fort Pickett. The exercise tested their specific skill sets in an exhausting, real-world scenario.

XCTC evaluations are meant to mimic actual combat conditions, many of the exercises will be scenario-based, occur at night, and be continuous.

“The best thing to prepare for the evaluations is to conduct realistic training, at night in rough terrain over long distances,” said Leslie.

“I feel very confident,” said Col. John Epperly, commander of the 116th IBCT. “The brigade is at it’s highest level of readiness I have ever seen it.”