The soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery, 41st Fires Brigade, have spent months preparing to go to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.

They went through a number of training events, including Ironhorse Rampage, a field training exercise conducted to certify the essential tasks required prior to this NTC rotation.

The battalion will be spending the next 30 days at NTC, or “the sandbox” as it is called by some soldiers, defending an imaginary U.S. ally during a hypothetical conflict.

For some soldiers within the battalion, such as Staff Sgt. William Bishop, a multiple launch rocket system section chief with Bravo Battery, this will be their first time at NTC.

“This is a new experience,” Bishop said. “I’m all down for it. This is a great opportunity.”

Bishop said during his eight years of service, he trained at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., many times but never trained at NTC.

Pfc. Melissa Czarnogursky, a multiple launch rocket system operations/fire direction specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, is another soldier going to NTC for the first time.

“I’m excited to go to NTC,” she said. “It’s going to be a good training opportunity and my first taste of what a deployment would be like.”

Czarnogursky said she is excited about employing her training in the stressful and austere conditions of the Mojave Desert.

Spc. Rahjaunn Campbell, a multiple launch rocket system crewmember with Bravo Battery, said for the last six months, his battery trained in preparation for this culminating event with 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

“I think NTC is going to be pretty smooth,” Campbell said.

While at NTC, the soldiers will provide 1st Brigade with long-range fire support.

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