Story and photos by Pfc. Andrew Ingram
1st Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
FORT IRWIN, Calif. — With their safety brief and vehicle checks complete, the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Soldiers loaded into their vehicles, and filed down the road one at a time to achieve their spacing during a tactical road march at the National Training Center, Oct. 25.
After a week at the Fort Irwin, Calif., reception area known as Logistics Staging Area Warrior, the “Regulars” set out under the cover of darkness to begin a two-week training regimen that involves partnering with “Atropian” Security Forces, while fending off attacks from the nation of “Donovia,” as a way to test their abilities.
“We are headed out to conduct a decisive action mission, which means we could come up against anything,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Edwards, senior enlisted leader, 1st Bn., 22nd Inf. Reg. “We will most likely face conventional forces from the nation of Donovia, as well as insurgents from the local Atropian population.”
Before the Regulars mounted their vehicles and convoyed to their temporary home in the Mojave Desert, senior noncommissioned officers gathered their Soldiers to conduct safety briefs.
“One thing I really want to emphasize to the young Soldiers especially, is safety,” said Sgt. 1st Class Scott Veldt, schools noncommissioned officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Bn., 22nd Inf. Reg. “We have an important mission out here, but this is training, not combat; I don’t want to see any of my Soldiers hurt or killed because of a preventable mistake.”
In the months leading up to their rotation, the Regulars spent weeks in the Fort Carson training area honing their skills through constant drills and exercises.
“I feel very confident in my Soldiers, said Veldt. “They are very focused, and I believe they are ready for everything the trainers out here will throw at them.”
Pfc. Seth Vordermark, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, said he is eager to get out into “The Box,” as Soldiers call the NTC training area, to prove his unit’s competence.
“For a lot of us who haven’t deployed yet, this is the biggest test we’ve faced so far,” Vordermark said. “I think how we perform here will do a lot to earn the respect of our leaders, and prove we have what it takes to handle the stress of a combat deployment.”
Edwards said he looks forward to watching his Soldiers enhance their skills during the course of the two-week training event.
“Out here, all I can ask from my Soldiers is to get better every day, have fun, hone their individual skills, and for our young leaders to always build on their platoon’s collective tasks,” Edwards said. “I believe that is where the rubber meets the road, down at the platoon level. With our young leaders handling business and looking out for their Soldiers, we are going to do very well here at NTC.”
The Regulars convoy exited its staging area in darkness, headlights off, relying on night vision goggles to navigate the dirt roads of the training area.
“You can’t be too careful,” Edwards said. “The enemy could already be looking for us.”