Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Porch
2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Below freezing temperatures, long work hours and dedicated Soldiers defined a monthlong field exercise where 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, trained at Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, Feb. 18 through March 20.
“Warhorse” Soldiers, in preparation for a rotation to the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., later this summer, conducted force-on-force training that included decisive action training, counterinsurgency operations and basic skills training related to Soldier specific jobs.
“Coming out of here, the goal was to be NTC ready,” said Col. Omar Jones IV, commander, 2nd BCT. “I think we are that and then some.”
With the brigade preparing for any possible deployment, this was the first chance for units to test their abilities to conduct force-on-force operations and show they are battle ready.
During the operations, units maneuvered vehicles as a battalion-size force, and Soldiers focused on specific job-related tasks such as long-range communications or logistical convoys to supply remote locations. In between the force-on-force training, Soldiers worked on their ability to carry out counterinsurgency operations, such as searching buildings and engaging civilians in a mock city.
“By this time on our training pool, I have never seen a brigade more combat ready,” said Sgt. Maj. Kevin Muhlenbeck, operations sergeant major, 2nd BCT. “I think as long as we stay grounded, do not overestimate our abilities and do not underestimate the enemy’s abilities, we can go toe-to-toe with any mechanized armored force in the world.”
This was the first time newer Warhorse Soldiers conducted decisive action training, which is used to ensure Soldiers can engage an enemy mechanized force. For others it refreshed skills they hadn’t used in the current conflicts during counterinsurgency operations.
The biggest take away from the training was breaking away from going out on a mission for a couple of hours and returning to a forward operating base, said Muhlenbeck.
Though the training mainly focused on mechanized battles, the brigade incorporated tactics used in the unit’s deployment to Afghanistan last year in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“It’s a hybrid threat,” said Muhlenbeck. “We can be fighting a decisive action fight in the morning, out in the field slugging it out with another armor force, and instead of just passing villages like we used to, you actually have to go in there and clear the insurgent and criminal element out.”
As Soldiers returned to Fort Carson, the first thing on the schedule was recovery operations.
Cleaning out vehicles, conducting maintenance and getting all the equipment back to a high standard is important, said Muhlenbeck. Verifying all paperwork is up-to-date is next and then personal recovery comes.
Soldiers will be allotted time to recover and spend time with their Families or take a vacation.
“Everyone needs that time,” said Muhlenbeck. “It’s about 10 days of very good, hard-earned rest. These guys need to go home, spend time with their kids, spouses and extended family and take care of themselves.”
After the rest period, it is back to work in preparation for NTC, and senior leadership expectations are high.
“I’m incredibly excited that we have two months to capture what we have done here,” said Jones. “Get better with all our Standard Operating Procedures, get better with some retraining and take that to NTC. I’m really (excited) to see what we are going to come out with on the other side (of NTC).”