Story and photos by Spc. Nathan Thome
1st Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Refining fundamental maneuver skills to better employ combat forces and perform decisive actions on the battlefield is the focus of the two-month “Raider Strike” training exercise at Camp Red Devil on Fort Carson.
Soldiers of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, began the exercise April 30 in preparation for their upcoming rotation to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.
“This training provides realistic scenario-based situations in which Soldiers apply their abilities to complete tasks,” said Maj. Wayne Keeler, training and operations officer-in-charge, 1st Special Troops Battalion. “It serves as a culmination of training exercises for 1st BCT Soldiers from individual to company-sized elements.”
Throughout the exercise, Soldiers from the brigade’s six battalions serve as training enablers, opposing forces and role-players to assist units in validating skills.
The training regimen includes vehicle maneuver exercises, air and ground medical evacuation lanes, and react-to-contact and chemical attack drills.
“These exercises have given us the opportunity to plan and maneuver our forces in a (force-on-force scenario),” said 1st Lt. Joseph Izraelevitz, platoon leader, Company C, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment. “Our Soldiers continued to push forward when the exercises put them in high-intensity situations.”
The training event provided “Raider” Brigade armor crewmen and infantrymen the opportunity to work together, while learning new skills and understanding each other’s roles and responsibilities on the battlefield.
“Being a mounted element, we don’t usually work with infantry,” said Spc. Hector Vega, armor crewman, Company C, 1st Bn., 22nd Inf. Reg. “The way we maneuver is different than the way a dismounted element maneuvers, which taught us more about each other and provided a valuable learning experience.”
During each scenario-based training exercise, senior leaders from throughout the brigade served as observers for the training units, providing an unbiased assessment of their performances.
“We want to ensure that battalions are performing to the best of their abilities,” said Keeler. “Providing an impartial set of eyes gives battalions a quality assessment in training and proficiency levels.”
The assessments offer leaders a clear understanding of what is expected of the battalions, Keeler said. By knowing their unit’s competency level, commanders can identify and correct deficiencies, while adapting to the mission.
During Raider Brigade’s deployment to Afghanistan in 2010-2011, Soldiers traveled by Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles and conducted dismounted patrols instead of using the M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M1 Abrams tanks.
Given an opportunity to train with their assigned armored fighting vehicles, Raider Soldiers are working hard to develop their skills, staying proficient in their warrior tasks, while improving their capabilities, Keeler said.
“There is always room for improvement, so we continue to train and better ourselves,” said Izraelevitz. “When the brigade goes to NTC, we want our Soldiers trained to the best of their abilities.”
After completing Raider Strike, 1st BCT units will deploy to NTC as a brigade-sized element, combining the battalion missions to conduct military operations in realistic combat situations.