116th IBCT heads to Fort Drum for annual training

Soldiers from Danville-based 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team load equipment onto flatbed trucks to be transported to Fort Drum for annual training. The 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is taking part of the National Guard's Multi-echelon Integrated Brigade Training that will train and evaluate companies on tasks that support offensive and defensive operations. (Courtesy Photo)

Soldiers from Danville-based 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team load equipment onto flatbed trucks to be transported to Fort Drum for annual training. The 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is taking part of the National Guard’s Multi-echelon Integrated Brigade Training that will train and evaluate companies on tasks that support offensive and defensive operations.
(Courtesy Photo)

SANDSTON, Va. — The 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is ready to conduct company-level validation training at the Multi-echelon Integrated Brigade Training exercise at Fort Drum, N.Y., for this year’s annual training.

Preparation for the MiBT builds upon last year’s eXportable Combat Training Capability training exercise, which tested and certified units at the platoon level. Unlike XCTC, this year’s training will move up a level to challenge Soldiers and leaders on company-level collective tasks to meet benchmarks in the brigade’s Army Force Generation training cycle, explained Lt. Col. Samuel T. Donnelly, operations officer for the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

The exercise is an example of the Army’s Total Force Policy, which directs active and reserve component forces to integrate their Soldiers and unit capabilities into pre-deployment collective training events. Active component Soldiers will serve as mentors to maneuver units and staff during all training events. They will also serve as opposition forces during situational training on lanes. The U.S. Army Reserve will provide the majority of observers, coaches and trainers for the 116th.

Each battalion, battery and squadron will conduct training missions based on their specific war time mission in a simulated war-like environment, said Donnelly. Company commanders will be able to lead their troops in realistic missions and not have to concentrate their efforts on administrative tasks that can consume their time in home station training.

The main event will be a combined, armed live fire exercise. There will be different scenarios throughout the exercise. One scenario will involve infantry in situational training exercises while they receive information provided by cavalry scouts. The infantry company commander may call in indirect fire from artillery to support the infantry mission. Engineers will be attached to the infantry to provide additional warfighting capabilities. The CALFEX will stress Soldiers and leaders during each mission as close to a combat environment as possible.

Logistics and sustainment will have a real world support mission, but will do it in a contested environment. These Soldiers can expect to react to enemy contact while delivering food, ammunition and supplies.

In addition to company-level training, Donnelly said there will be a command post exercise for brigade and battalion staffs. The New York National Guard’s 42nd Infantry Division will serve as the higher headquarters in the CPX that will test the ability to execute mission command elements.

The movement from Virginia to a mostly unfamiliar training area affords many real world challenges for maintenance and communication. All organic communication systems will be utilized while at Fort Drum, forcing the communications teams to set them up from nothing. Refinement of the set up and use of these systems has been happening on drill weekends leading up to the MiBT exercise. Maintenance will be stressed at Fort Drum since they are far from their home stations. Maintainers will have to do whatever it takes to keep vehicles moving with limited support at the New York National Guard’s MATES facility.

Just getting Soldiers and equipment to Fort Drum has been a huge undertaking. Logistics personnel have been working overtime to get this accomplished. Moving the entire brigade from Virginia to New York could be its own exercise. The staff has been forced to be creative in planning to get the approximate 3,500 Soldiers and over 900 pieces of equipment to Fort Drum. Some equipment will convoy up and other pieces has been loaded on flatbed trailers to be delivered before Soldiers arrive so once they get on the ground they can immediately start training.

This MiBT exercise model is a first of its kind for a National Guard unit. It is in line with the brigade’s ARFORGEN training cycle in preparation for potential future deployments.

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