FORT IRWIN, Calif. — Soldiers with 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, put their skills to the test at the National Training Center (NTC) during its rotation Oct. 25, 2018, to Nov. 9, 2018.
Following on the heels of an intense collective gunnery and decisive-action train-up, the unit swiftly maintained its high operational tempo and jumped into execution after months of simultaneous planning and preparation.
“Because of the diligence and aptitude of the members of the brigade staff plans team, we were able to conduct multiple echelons of planning for NTC amidst ongoing operations at Fort Carson and PCMS (Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site),” said Maj. Chuck Bies, brigade plans officer in charge, 3rd ABCT. “It is not easy to make estimates and attribute factors that may cause forward or backward delays in the timeline, but our staff pulled off the feat with an undue sense of accomplishment. Exceptional work.”
Shortly after completing its division-observed brigade exercise, Operation Iron Strike began at PCMS. Soldiers returned with haste to the Fort Carson railhead in order to send the fleet, consisting of over 1,600 pieces of equipment, and tracked vehicles to Fort Irwin, California.
“In a short two-week window, the 3rd ABCT moved nearly 5,000 Soldiers (and) over 1,600 pieces of equipment across the country,” said Maj. Jacob Vanko, brigade current operations officer in charge, 3rd ABCT. “This enormous task required a highly synchronized plan that our battalions executed without fail. To accomplish this feat on time was impressive enough, but the fact it was done so safely is a testament to the competence of our Soldiers and engagement of leadership at every level.”
Upon arrival to NTC, Soldiers and leaders hit the ground running in order to prepare for operations in the training area. During the reception, staging, onward movement and integration (RSOI), Soldiers at all levels completed their assigned tasks in a timely manner before rolling out to the training area known as “the box.”
“RSOI week is a challenging but integral part of preparing for field operations,” said Maj. Christopher Carpenter, brigade executive officer, 3rd ABCT. “It is a great feeling of relief to have all of our staff gather the night before deploying to the field. Leaders have been working nonstop on planning how we will face our simulated force-on-force enemy, but also establishing and checking off readiness conditions so that each vehicle crew is confident they can support the destruction of the enemy threat.”
In recent years, the Army has transitioned its operational focus at the NTC from the counterinsurgency fight, to 3rd ABCT’s most recent exercise — decisive-action rotations.
Decisive-action training hones in on a unit’s specific capabilities to fight a near-peer threat, toe-to-toe with hostile forces that may have capabilities such as the 3rd ABCT’s Abrams tanks, Bradleys and Paladin howitzers.
“I think that as we have begun to see more U.S. Army units announcing their plans for transitioning to armored brigade combat teams, it especially highlights the importance of what our Soldiers are doing here,” said Command. Sgt. Maj. Sam Rapp, command sergeant major, 3rd ABCT. “Our tanks are some of the most decisive and lethal assets on the battlefield, you can’t beat what an armored brigade has to offer in unified land operations.”
Training consisted of two main phases: first, force-on-force operations and later, a live-fire exercise. During the force-on-force iteration, the ultimate goal of the 3rd ABCT was to defeat the simulated enemy forces of the 52nd Infantry Division. Upon 3rd ABCT’s final mission against the 52nd Inf. Div., they transitioned into what they do best — destroying the enemy using the overwhelming firepower of a unified land force.
Overall, Soldiers with the 3rd ABCT returned from NTC back to Fort Carson trained and confident on their weapons platforms, ready to take on any mission.
“This training opportunity called upon our formation to push far and fast, and to prove that we have what it takes as a team to accomplish any mission bestowed upon us,” said Col. Michael J. Simmering, commander, 3rd ABCT. “This rotation has reassured me what I already knew, that I can say that I am completely confident our Soldiers have the utmost ability to respond to potential crises anywhere, anytime.”
The Army recently announced that the 3rd ABCT will deploy to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, in spring 2019 in support of Operation Saber Shield.