By Sgt. Lianne Hirano | U.S. ARMY NATIONAL GUARD
PABRADE TRAINING CAMP, Lithuania — Soldiers assigned to Cutthroat Company, 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, conducted situational training exercises with M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and dismounted infantry for a platoon live-fire exercise at Pabradė Training Area, Lithuania, from Oct. 13-15, 2022.
The training, conducted by 1st Bn., 66th Armor Reg., 3rd ABCT, 4th Inf. Div., was part of a company workup designed to prepare the unit for battalion command combat operations.
“We took them from individual level, buddy level, teams, squad and crew qualifications,” said Lt. Col. Paul G. Lockhart, commander, 1st Bn., 66th Armor Reg., 3rd ABCT, 4th Inf. Div. “This platoon live-fire is the highest level of training that I can certify as a battalion commander and to see them put all those pieces together and execute it almost flawlessly was a very rewarding experience for me.”
For the past several decades, the U.S. Army has been fighting non-conventional warfare and equipping and training to fight counter-insurgence. Currently, the Army is training for combat against larger scale conventional fighting forces.
“Over the course of the last 20 plus years, we have been fighting a counter-insurgency battle and now we’re shifting our focus back to large scale combat operations,’’ said Lockhart. “We’re getting back to the basics, so if we have to fight a near peer threat or competitor, we have the ability to do that.”
The STX training was conducted over several months and culminated into a final live-fire exercise that tested Soldiers’ skills on an individual basis through platoon levels of certification.
“The infantry company and platoons have gone through numerous iterations of training over the course of the last 90 to 120 days, starting from individual qualification all the way to this platoon collective training event,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jason R. Mortensen, 1st Bn., 66th Armor Reg., 3rd ABCT, 4th Inf. Div. “It’s time for them to now incorporate all the training they have done to execute a tactical scenario, both dismounted and mounted operations, which will get them through their platoon level certifications to conduct combat operations.”
Being a part of the NATO mission in Lithuania, 1st Bn., 66th Armor Reg., 3rd ABCT, 4th Inf. Div., has also participated in multinational combat training exercises with U.S. allies over the last seven months, building and strengthening the interoperability and cohesion of the NATO fighting force.
“Cutthroat Company just got back from Exercise Silver Arrow in Latvia where they employed interoperability and shared tactics, techniques and procedures,” said Lockhart. “That has really shown as they move out here and execute their platoon live-fires because they’ve taken what they’ve learned from the U.S. force as well as our Allied partners and incorporated that into this live-fire.”
The training conducted by 1st Bn., 66th Armor Reg., 3rd ABCT, 4th Inf. Div., showcases the Army’s ability and capacity to defend their NATO allies should situations warrant such a response.
“Cutthroat Company has trained very hard to get where they are today to get to this culminating exercise,” Mortensen said. “A lot of very good work by all leaders and Soldiers showing that this company, is truly a lethal and proficient company and today they demonstrated their lethality and proficiencies.”
Mortensen earnestly addressed Cutthroat Company before the final training exercise, reminding them of the gravity of the world’s events and their role and readiness to respond should it be required.
“Remember where you are. Right now, today. Be cognizant of what is going on in the world right now,” said Mortensen. “If the commander gives an order to occupy defense operations, today is the closest we’re going to get to train you in getting you ready for that order.”