The 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team is beginning to wind down a month-long training rotation at the U.S. Army’s National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.
More than 1,800 soldiers from 137 Idaho communities are returning home. The large-scale exercise is the brigade’s final training before it is available for a complete real-world mission in 2020.
“The 116th CBCT deployed to the National Training Center to train under the most war-like conditions available,” said Maj. Noah Siple, brigade operations officer. “There is no other place where an armor brigade can train in every facet of its mission. Every Soldier was challenged to the highest point.”
116th CBCT commander Col. Scott Sheridan said part of the rotation was a 14-day field exercise in which the brigade conducted offensive, defensive, and security area training against a near-peer force provided by the U.S. Army.
“It was inspiring to see nine battalions and 50-plus company, troop and battery commanders come together in the hostile environment of the National Training Center and in less than 15 days, mold themselves into an effective brigade combat team,” said Brig. Gen. Farin Schwartz, commander, Idaho Army National Guard and the brigade’s senior trainer for the rotation.
In addition to the 29-day rotation, most Soldiers completed 10-day gunnery cycles, completed three weeks of annual training last year building up to this year’s rotation, or attended the Leadership Training Program at Fort Irwin in November. For the first 10 days of the exercise, the 116th CBCT conducted wartime operations against the near-peer opposing force before spending the final five days conducting live-fire exercises to increase the unit’s ability to maneuver as a brigade and part of a joint task force.
The Idaho Air National Guard also participated. The 124th Fighter Wing provided close air support and tactical air control through an exercise called “Green Flag-West.” “Incorporating the Idaho Air National Guard allowed us to synchronize the effects of both ground and air forces against the enemy,” Sheridan said.
Beginning next spring, the 116th will participate in “Defender 2020”, a month-long deployment to Germany. It will demonstrate the ability of an armored brigade combat team to deploy from the U.S., draw equipment and rapidly build combat forces in Europe. It will then train in a high-intensity European scenario.