U.S. Army/Capt. Marvin J. Baker - Soldiers in the 120th Infantry Brigade’s 2nd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, of First Army Division West, move toward their targets during a short-range marksmanship range at Fort Hood recently. The unit’s primary mission is planning and resourcing culminating training events for Army National Guard and Reserve units deploying overseas. In between training units, “Dakota” battalion soldiers maintain their basic infantryman skills. - -

By Capt. Marvin J. Baker

First Army Division West public affairs

After two years of focused observer controller-trainer work, soldiers in the 2nd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, First Army Division West, turned their attention back to basic infantry skills with two weeks of intense field and range training this month.

"It is imperative that we maintain our critical combat functional skills," said Lt. Col. Ardrelle Evans, battalion commander.

For the "Dakota" battalion, 2012 started with the planning and executing of the final days of post-mobilization training for the Georgia Army National Guard's 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. Now, before the next deploying unit arrives at Fort Hood, the battalion will complete a series of training events aimed at basic infantryman skills.

For the next two weeks, Evans said, soldiers in the unit will complete a short-range marksmanship range, an urban assault course and a "shoot house" that tests soldiers' room-entering and clearing abilities.

Starting in 2010, the battalion became Division West's first plans, exercise and movement control battalion, a change that required soldiers in the infantry unit to switch gears from "risk and danger" to "research and discussion."

"Dakota" soldiers are primarily responsible for planning and resourcing culminating training exercises for Army National Guard and Army Reserve units deploying overseas.

Such exercises combine individual and collective training events using live, constructive and virtual real-world scenarios aimed at testing the dozens of skills units must perform in combat.

When Staff Sgt. John Reese, a trainer in the battalion, is not planning culminating training events, he enjoys going to the range. He gets a lot out of the infantry training, he said, and it will help him when he gets back to a line unit.

One reason many "Dakota" soldiers enjoy getting back to unit-led, infantry-based training is that it helps them relate to the soldiers they put through post-mobilization training. Although this was not the first time going through the ranges for most of the soldiers, the importance of it was not lost on them.

"I am an infantryman. So when we get serious on the ranges, I love the intensity of it," said Staff Sgt. Ramon Deleon. "Nothing beats it."

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