116th IBCT Soldiers demonstrate training proficiency during AT

Soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment conduct a live fire assault June 11, 2016, as part of the unit’s 36-hour field training exercise during 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team annual training at Fort Pickett, Virginia. (Photo by Sgt. Saul Rosa, 116th IBCT Public Affairs)

Soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment conduct a live fire assault June 11, 2016, as part of the unit’s 36-hour field training exercise during 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team annual training at Fort Pickett, Virginia. (Photo by Sgt. Saul Rosa, 116th IBCT Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team demonstrated a high level of proficiency that met and exceeded expectations for their “ready year” during annual training June 4-18, 2016, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. With two battalions on federal mobilization and multiple companies having conducted training center rotations earlier in the year, the brigade had a smaller footprint on the ground at Fort Pickett, but all of those Soldiers demonstrated they would have been ready to go if called.

“I didn’t think I would see this level of training,” said Col. Scott Smith, the commander of the 116th who succeeded Col. Bill Coffin June 5. “I think the brigade ended its ready year at the level we were expected, and our Soldiers clearly showed they would have been ready for a mobilization. There was a lot of great training going on.”

The Army has a multi-year cycle called the sustainable readiness model were units are moved through a stable, predictable cycle of training, deployment and post-deployment reset, Smith explained. During that cycle, training starts with a focus on individuals skills, then moves to collective training at the squad, platoon, company, battalion and brigade level. During annual training last year, the brigade conducted a large scale collective training exercise at Fort Drum that prepared them for their ready year in 2016.

While the entire brigade did not get a deployment mission, multiple units received mobilization orders and supported rotations at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana. The Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, along with the Suffolk-based Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, mobilized in 2015 for security duty in the Central Command area of operations, and they will be replaced by the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment. Two firing batteries from the the Hampton-based 1st Battalion,111th Field Artillery Regiment, and Company A, 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion augmented the opposing force at JRTC during two different rotations along with elements of Company C and multiple forward support companies of the Danville-based 429th Brigade Support Battalion.

The remaining units training at Fort Pickett conducted a wide variety of training including individual weapons qualification, crew served weapons qualification, day and night squad live fire, call for indirect fire, unmanned aerial system flight operations, medical assistance, sustainment support, demolitions and situational training lanes focused on individual Soldier skills.

Smith said that one of the largest and most complex training events of the two weeks was the 36-hour field training exercise conducted by 2nd Squadron with support from multiple units throughout the brigade. During the FTX, the Headquarters Troop sling loaded a Humvee with a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 28th Combat Aviation Brigade, Troop A conducted reconnaissance operations, Troop C launched a night air assault via Black Hawks from the 28th CAB and moved into the live fire lanes on Pickett’s Infantry Platoon Battle Course. During the squadron’s operations, firing batteries from 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment and mortar crews from 2nd Squadron and 3rd Battalion provided indirect fire support, and the 429th provide sustainment support. For 29 hours of the FTX, the Bowling Green-based Detachment 2, 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion provided aerial coverage with the Shadow unmanned aerial system.

The battalions also conducted events that maximized the training opportunities for the Soldiers available for AT.

The 429th conducted a field training exercise where they established a brigade support area in a tactical environment complete with entry control points and had an opposing force aggress against the site to test Soldiers abilities to react appropriately. Soldiers from the 429th with support from military police Soldiers from the 229th Military Police Company, 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion simulated a civilian medical assistance mission. The battalion also conducted a Truck Rodeo for motor transport operators from across the state that also included Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division as part of an ongoing active Army and National Guard training partnership.

Soldiers from the 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion navigated the Warrior Lanes for two days with training the focused on basic Soldier skills like dismounted patrolling, reacting to enemy contact, providing basic first aid and requesting medical evacuation.

The rear detachments of 1st Battalion and 3rd Battalion conducted individual and crew served weapons qualification, and 1st Battalion also trained on domestic response capabilities like civil disturbance response and chain saw operation. Soldiers from 3rd Battalion were able to conduct squad level training including situational training lanes as well as day and night squad live fire.

“I was really impressed with the training planned and executed by the rear detachments of 1st and 3rd Battalions,” Smith said. “I was not expecting them to see that level of training, and it is a credit to their leaders for doing a great job in providing training opportunities for their Soldiers.”

With both firing batteries having already completed annual training, the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery provided fire support during a drill weekend status and live fired nearly 2,200 rounds.

The 116th received maintenance and transportation support from the 529th CSSB during annual training that signals a new cooperation between the units. Smith said that with force structure changes that begin this year the brigade will loose transportation assets, and the 529th will be called upon in the future to fill the gap.

Smith also credited the great support from the Fort Pickett Maneuver Training Center staff in making annual training successful.

“The MTC staff really bent over backwards to make sure we had everything we needed,” Smith said. “There was no training that we wanted to do that we couldn’t conduct because of the great support they provided.”

Guillory takes command of the 429th Brigade Support Battalion
Photos on the 429th BSB Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/429thBSB/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1040363846051255
Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157667269315963

116th BSTB tests Soldier skills on Warrior Lanes
Photos on the 116th BSTB Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/116thBSTB/photos/?tab=album&album_id=790904087679791
Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157669015302020

Truck drivers compete for top honors in 429th BSB Truck Rodeo
Photos on the 429th BSB Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/429thBSB/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1039279169493056
Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157667204976853

Spur Ride forges strong teams, teaches new skills
Photos on the 2-183rd Cavalry Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1142703545770693.1073741853.113258708715187&type=1&l=3003a61156
Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157669886568725

116th BSTB Soldiers fly Shadow UAS at Fort Pickett
Photos on the 116th BSTB Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/116thBSTB/photos/?tab=album&album_id=788743651229168
Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157669453294361
Raw video:
https://www.facebook.com/VaNationalGuard/videos/10154236383463560/

429th Soldiers conduct sustainment field training exercise
Photos on the 429th BSB Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1036643693089937.1073741839.650927741661536
Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157667058886413

Senior leaders visit UAS training
Photos on the 116th BSTB Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.787800301323503.1073741913.117166128386927
Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157669234387241

Cavalry Soldiers conduct live fire exercise
Photos on the 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1139860666054981.1073741852.113258708715187
Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157669621474466

Mortar sections provide indirect fire support to cavalry FTX
Photos on the 116th IBCT Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154294267266474.1073741917.305350521473
Photo on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157669681557705

429th Soldiers simulate medical assistance mission
Photos on the 429th BSB Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1036458649775108.1073741833.650927741661536
Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157667035107474

Infantry Soldiers conduct squad night live fire
Raw video on the Va. National Guard Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/VaNationalGuard/videos/10154222176268560/

Governor live fires with field artillery Soldiers
Photos on the 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.654174184732779.1073741842.335400383276829
Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157669580263476
Raw video on the 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/1stBattalion111thFieldArtillery/videos/654735868009944/

Cavalry Soldiers sling load Humvee during FTX
Raw video on the Va. National Guard Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/VaNationalGuard/videos/10154213723503560/
Photos on the Va. National Guard Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154214165658560.1073742500.173715018559
Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157669166923152

Retrans station keeps 116th IBCT talking
Photos on the 116th BSTB Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.786536524783214.1073741912.117166128386927
Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157669199889081

429th Soldiers tow disabled vehicle
Photos on the 429th BSB Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1035094313244875.1073741832.650927741661536
Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157667024616023

Cavalry Soldiers plan, prepare for night air assault
Photos on the 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1138362722871442.1073741851.113258708715187
Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157669675415905

Raw Video: Cavalry Soldiers conduct night air assault
Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Virginia Beach-based Troop C, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct a night air assault using UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 104th Aviation Regiment June 10, 2016, at Fort Pickett, Virginia.
Raw video on the Va. National Guard Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/VaNationalGuard/videos/10154213673873560/

Photos: Soldiers train for helicopter patient loading
Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team train on loading procedures for HH-60M Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopters from the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 104th Aviation Regiment June 9, 2016, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. After practicing with a simulated patient while the helicopter engines were off, also known as cold loading, the Soldiers then loaded a simulated patient on a stretcher as well as ones who could walk on their own with the engines running, also known as hot loading.
Photos on the 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1137297666311281.1073741849.113258708715187
Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157669578792276

Photos: Infantry Soldiers conduct squad lane training
Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct squad lane training June 9, 2016, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. Squads navigated several different lanes focused on skills for movement to contact, area security, conducting an ambush and reacting to enemy contact.
Photos on the 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1137297666311281.1073741849.113258708715187
Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157667011987694

Photos: Cavalry Soldiers sling load Humvee
Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team practice sling loading a Humvee with a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 104th Aviation Regiment June 9, 2016, at Fort Pickett, Virginia.
Photos on the 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1137303829643998.1073741850.113258708715187
Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157669579366106

Photos: Smith takes command of 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
Col. E. Scott Smith takes command of the Virginia National Guard’s Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Col. William J. Coffin June 5, 2016, in a traditional change of command ceremony at Fort Pickett, Virginia. Brig. Gen. Walter L. Mercer, the Virginia National Guard’s Assistant Adjutant General – Army, presided over the exchange of unit colors that represented the transfer of command from Coffin to Smith.
Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157669307894626
Photos on the 116th IBCT Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154277292716474.1073741916.305350521473