By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Fort Hood Herald
Maneuver company commanders, their platoon leaders and staffs of the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team recently got an up-close look at the resources at their disposal on the battlefield.
Mortar crews from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment; artillery crews from the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment; and Black Hawk and Apache crews from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade's 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, joined armor and infantry leaders from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry; 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment; and 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, at a series of training ranges at Fort Hood
There, the leaders practiced synchronizing artillery, mortars and helicopter firepower as they maneuvered toward a target.
Each leader had to act as if his whole company was on the battlefield with him, said Maj. Ethan Orr. They will be joined by their soldiers for the training in the first two week of January during the brigade's "Ironhorse Rampage." It is the final training event at Fort Hood for the brigade before spending a month at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., in March.
The training involved full-spectrum operations fights, said Lt. Col. Miles Brown, the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery's commander. He attended the training to provide insight as to how his companies could be integrated into the maneuver commanders' plans.
The three days of training was important because those men were the next generation of leaders, Brown said. This is what they're supposed to be able to do, he added.
Brown said training for company commanders and platoon leaders wasn't like this when he was a young officer. The Army has grown so much, Brown said, because he didn't have the capacity to understand and execute maneuvers like the 20-somethings were doing at the range that week.
The training was good because it gave the leaders a better idea of the abilities of the assets available to them, Capt. Bo Burns, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry commander, said after completing a maneuver lane with 1st Lt. Michael Schumacher, his fire support officer, and Sgt. James Morrison, a forward observer.
The leaders who participated in the training also got a chance to fire almost all of the weapons systems they called upon during the maneuver lane. That included visits to the mortar tracks and Paladins at nearby ranges.
Getting to fire the weapons helped the visitors "build confidence in this asset," said Capt. Erik Sewell, a fire support officer in the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry.
Though it wasn't the first time Capt. Carl Danko pulled the lanyard on a Paladin's 155mm howitzer, it was the first time he went through the entire procedure of preparing the gun to fire.
Danko commands the battalion's Charlie Company, and said the training was valuable because it gave him a chance to see what happens behind the scenes when leaders call for fire and effects. He and his fire support noncommissioned officer, Sgt. Jeremey Pelletier, got to see all the processes from start to finish and it gave them a better understanding of what everything did, Danko said.
"It was fun," Pelletier said. "A lot of fun."