116th IBCT conducts Warfighter exercise


FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – More than 600 members of the Virginia National Guard’s Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team participated in a Warfighter exercise at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, July 14-28, 2018.

“We have been training for this exercise for months and together we met all my training objectives,” said Lt. Col. Joseph DiNonno commander of the 116th IBCT. “We will learn from both our successes and failures exhibited in the training and use these lessons to continue to improve as a team.”

A Warfighter exercise is a culminating training event where units incorporate their skills to plan for, and respond to, complex computer-simulated events and scenarios, DiNonno explained. These events test and evaluate a unit’s reaction and methods pertaining to its planning, management and execution to improve their readiness and combat effectiveness. During the exercise, forces and events are simulated in a notional environment as the commander and staff plan, coordinate, synchronize and exercise command and control over operations during a mission.

The training event involved every asset of the 116th IBCT including infantry, cavalry, engineers field artillery and support battalions to increase the realism and impact of the simulation. Joining the 116th IBCT were Air Force representatives from the 118th Air Support Operations Squadron from the North Carolina Air National Guard who supported the mission with simulated air assets.

“This was my first annual training, and I have never been part of an exercise like this in the past,” said Pfc. Jessika Warner, a human resource specialist. “I am excited to take what I learned during the exercise and apply it in the future.”

The entire exercise was overseen by observer coach/trainers from the Mission Command Training Support Program. Each member of this team was certified through a rigorous training program and are subject matter experts on doctrine and their specific war fighting function. They played a critical role by mentoring and providing feedback to all staff members from the initial planning phase to the after-action review.

“This was a great opportunity to bring every element from the 116th IBCT and additional units from outside, together to train and focus on a common goal,” said Lt. Col. Samuel Donnelly, the brigade executive officer. “We spent some long days and nights planning and executing missions during the simulated battle and all those involved became valuable members of a cohesive fighting team.”

“I set high goals for our staff to achieve and expected them to be prepared at any time for any situation. We proved in this simulation that we can plan, fight, and win,” said DiNonno.