116th IBCT conducting eXportable Combat Training Capability rotation at Fort Pickett

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Bedford-based Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct the blank-fire phase of a platoon-level training exercise July 17, 2019, during eXportable Combat Training Capability Rotation 19-4 at Fort Pickett, Virginia. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — Virginia and Kentucky National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are honing their combat skills during the eXportable Combat Training Capability Rotation 19-4 scheduled for July 13 through August 2, 2019, at Fort Pickett, Virginia.

“We want to leverage XCTC to validate platoon-level proficiency and readiness using live fire exercises and situational training lanes focused on movement to contact and area defense against a near peer opposing force,” explained Col. Joseph DiiNonno, commander of the 116th IBCT. “We want simulate as much as feasible a realistic training environment for all units, have our battalion leaders validate their platoons while the brigade assesses company, troop and battery proficiency in order to shape training focus for 2020 and prepare us for next year’s Joint Readiness Training Center rotation.”

View more photos on Flickr: 116th IBCT XCTC 19-04

One of the biggest challenges of XCTC 19-4 is getting Soldiers back into a tactical mindset and re-learn the skills needed to operate in the field. The XCTC rotation will run over a 14-day continuous field operation where Soldiers will train, operate, sustain and live in tactical field conditions.

Dinonno said that other key tasks for the brigade will be operating command posts in a reduced configuration and “jumping” them at least two different times to give Soldier practice in setting up and taking down all the systems required to provide missions command. In addition to the primary digital systems for battle tracking, the brigade will also refresh their skills using analog tracking as well.

Integration all of the enablers needed to make a brigade function is also a top priority, and units will conduct sustainment operations in the field throughout the rotation.

“Our end state will be validated platoons that will make us poised to ensure company validation at JRTC,” Dinonno said. “Our brigade and battalion staffs will be better trained, and we will refine our standard operating procedures for command post configuration and operation. We also need to make sure sustainment capabilities are effective and better trained for a tactical environment where all of our enablers have been effectively integrated.”

According to the XCTC web site, the Army National Guard program is an instrumented brigade field training exercise designed to certify platoon proficiency in coordination with First Army. An XCTC rotation provides an experience similar to a Combat Training Center rotation the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, or Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, to a training facility closer to home. XCTC brings full training resource packages to Fort Pickett, reducing the need to spend time and money traveling to a distant training location.

Training lanes are customized to meet the 116th senior officer and NCO objectives and engage maneuver units as well as the sustainment units that support them. Situational training lanes may include ambushes, hasty attacks, movement to contact, recon missions, vehicle recovery and more.

Training aids include battlefield effects, civilians on the battlefield, foreign national role players, and Soldiers and vehicles will be outfitted with global positioning system-based instrumentation system tracking technology. The GPS system tracks vehicles and participants to the Soldier level, allowing unit leaders to replay the day’s training scenarios and discuss lessons learned in instrumented after action reviews with 2D, 3D, tactical audio and handheld video within minutes of mission completion.

Trainer / mentors from 1st Army will provide feedback to units during their AARs and will use the GPS system information to lead the training audience through a detailed review of any moment in the recorded mission, and from any perspective. The TM can selectively display the event of interest in whatever medium best tells the story and the intuitive graphics allow the Soldier to gain insight not otherwise possible from their position on the battlefield.

About the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team:

The 116th IBCT is authorized approximately 3,500 Soldiers and is the largest major command in the Virginia National Guard. The 116th has units throughout Virginia from Winchester to Pulaski along I-81, from Staunton to Virginia Beach along I-64, from Danville to Lynchburg to Warrenton along Route 29 as well as Fredericksburg, Manassas and Leesburg. An infantry battalion based in Barbourville, Kentucky, is also aligned with the 116th for training and readiness oversight. A brigade combat team is the basic deployable unit of maneuver in the U.S. Army and carries with it support units necessary to sustain its operations away from its parent division. The 116th consists of three infantry battalions, a cavalry squadron, a field artillery battalion, a brigade support battalion and brigade engineer battalion.

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Suffolk-based Bravo Troop, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct an operations order brief July 16, 2019, during eXportable Combat Training Capability Rotation 19-4 at Fort Pickett, Virginia. (U.S. National Guard photo by Cotton Puryear)