Infantry Soldiers focus on squad training at Fort A. P. Hill

Soldiers of the Charlottesville-based Company A, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team from mount a UH-60 Black hawk crewed by Capt. Larkin Scott, 1st Lt. Ivan Cruz, and Sgt. Darius Merritt of the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team. The 3-116th conducted squad training exercises at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. May 5, 2012. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. JoAnna Greene, 29th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

FORT A.P. HILL, Va — Dedicated to their mission of being a ready, relevant, and responsive Virginia Army National Guard unit, the 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team, conducted squad training exercises May 4-6 at Fort A.P. Hill.

The Army Force Generation model has designated this year’s training emphasis for the 116th BCT to be on individual and squad skills and tactics.  The exercises conducted by 3rd Battalion over the weekend reflect this training mission, said Capt. Lawrence Yacubian, assistant operations office for the battalion.

With the aid of two UH-60 Black Hawks and their crews from the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 3rd Battalion’s Company A Soldiers conducted squad-level air assault exercises, gaining a better understanding of aircraft safety and operations of air movement to a designated target.

“They love it!” said 1st Sgt. Ronald Holben, Company  A, talking about his Soldiers’ opportunity to practice with the Black Hawks.  “This is one of the things that keeps the guys interested and looking forward to next month.”

In a replicated Afghan compound on Fort A.P. Hill, fire teams from Company B conducted military operations in urban terrain using simulated rounds, small projectiles with paint markers fired through the Soldiers’ individual weapons. Using these rounds in the MOUT environment provides a different dynamic to force on force training that increases the unit’s preparedness that the Soldiers really enjoy, said Capt. Marshall Lupo, Company B commander.

“Anytime that we can get combat arms Soldiers into an environment where we can shoot, move, and communicate at full speed is a huge confidence booster,” said Capt. Marshall Lupo, Company B commander.  “Knowing we can conduct this kind of operation better prepares us for overseas missions.”

Infantrymen of Company C dedicated the weekend to their fundamental task as riflemen.  Soldiers practiced long-range marksmanship with their M4 rifles and accuracy with the M249 light machine gun.

“This is our primary tool,” said 1st Sgt. Charles Lathrop, Company C.  “Mastering this tool takes the unit to the next level.”

The mortar platoon of 3rd Battalion drilled for their gunnery exams over the weekend.  Within their mortar sections, the Soldiers were team building and increasing proficiency in their individual specialty skills, said 1st Lt. James Biddle, mortar platoon leader.

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