STAUNTON, Va. — For the first time in many years, the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team performed a company live fire exercise during the Multi-echelon Integrate Brigade Training exercise at Fort Drum N.Y., June 6-20.
“The guard has not seen training like this in many years,” said Col. William Coffin, commander of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “The training is an outstanding exercise that provides opportunities to company commanders in gaining experience to move their companies in a safe and controlled environment.”
The combined arms live fire exercise was just one of many training events during the MiBT, which is run by First Army Division East. They provided observers-coaches and trainers to evaluate each company as they went through lanes. In addition to First Army’s 188th Infantry Brigade, paratroopers from 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division added additional mentors during the live fire exercise for the 116th.
The CALFEX was set up as a three-day training exercise for each of the three infantry rifle companies in the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment. The exercise uses the Army’s crawl, walk, run training principle for each day of training. It was designed to replicate combat conditions using combined arms such as infantry, mortars, artillery and engineer support.
On day one, the company commander receives a mission brief to attack an objective during the day and at night. He must develop a plan using the terrain and assets available and brief it to the company. Once briefed, rehearsals are conducted and the company performs a walk through on the entire lane.
Each element walked through their portion of the assault. The assault force included engineers for an obstacle breach and infantrymen to assault through the objective. The support by fire position included the weapons squad and snipers. Indirect fires such as mortars and artillery are also included in the exercise. Lastly, the exercise tested Soldiers on their ability to call in an air or ground medical evacuation.
The second day of the exercise the company executes the mission at full speed using blanks to assault the objective. The third day is the same mission, but using live ammunition. After each iteration of the exercise the OCTs conduct after, action, reviews that help Soldiers and leaders improve their performances.
“The strides each company makes from the baseline at which they started to where they are at the end of the three days is tremendous,” said 1st Sgt. Paul Riedel, an OCT from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. “The NCO corps are very receptive to each mentor we have on site. They are motivated to be better at their jobs and want to learn how they can better motivate their soldiers.”
Riedel was just one of 12 paratroopers from the 116th’s active duty partner brigade, the 82nd’s Falcon Brigade, to help serve as mentors during the exercise. For their mentorship and effort at the MiBT, Coffin awarded the paratroopers with two Army Commendation Medals and 10 Army Achievement Medals.
“I take my hat off to the Stonewall Brigade for their high ambitions and goals in requesting company level live fire training,” said Sgt. Maj. Royce Mannis, range safety officer and trainer from the 188th Infantry Brigade. “The rate of improvement and progression of each company is impressive.”
Story by By Sgt. Christopher Martrano, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs.