While other units were jogging down Battalion Avenue in formation and singing cadences during morning physical training, “Warhorse” soldiers were in full battle gear as they prepared for confrontation with an opposing force.

Soldiers were tracking a potential bomb-making facility, and had to maneuver through enemy forces, while providing wide-area security, to find the facility and disarm the threat.

The idea behind the July 3 training scenario of 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was to provide all the components of a full-scale operation with a physical training element thrown in, said Lt. Col. Esli T. Pitts, battalion commander.

“I’ve always found that you can do a lot of tactical training during PT. It’s a couple hours in the morning when everybody is dedicated to PT anyway, so it’s easy to just do tactical operations with PT,” he said.

Last week’s training incorporated the entire Warhorse battalion, as well explosive ordnance disposal soldiers from the 79th Ordnance Battalion and human intelligence collection teams.

“The entire battalion is out and it doesn’t get any better than that,” Pitts said.

Bomb training

Some Warhorse soldiers dressed as an opposing force, tracking the soldiers as they maneuvered through post and located the bomb-making facility in a company headquarters. Ordnance soldiers set up what an actual facility downrange could look like. When detonated, the mock explosives beeped.

“Usually the training aids are indicative of what we’ve seen,” said 1st Lt. Brian Cowick, a platoon leader in the ordnance battalion. He said the training provided mutual benefits.

“We gain the benefit of being able to come out with maneuver units and learn to integrate with them,” Cowick said. “It’s really good for all parties involved.”

Keeping the training within the battalion’s footprint and offices, also allowed for all soldiers to participate despite fiscal constraints.

“We’ve got the sequestration going on so there’s not a lot of money for fuel, and we’ve spent so much time training up to get efficient on the tanks and Bradleys again in the last six months. Now we are balancing the scale with the dismounted training,” Pitts said.

“Even if I had money for the fuel for tanks and Bradleys, I’d still have to do this, and it’s great,” he said. “There aren’t many opportunities in the year for me to put out everything from the battalion on down to conduct operations. For this, everyone up to the battalion commander trains.”

West Point Cadet Ben Ferrell also participated as part of his three-week cadet troop leadership training. The rising senior said he had no idea he would get the chance to serve as a platoon leader in a training scenario.

“It’s been a great experience,” Ferrell said. “I definitely failed, but getting the experience to fail, I learned a lot. They didn’t intervene and I’m learning from my mistakes and making mistakes.”

Contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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