As I wrote these words earlier this week, thousands of soldiers from Fort Hood and elsewhere are already at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.

First Cavalry Division’s 3rd Brigade left for NTC last week, and is bringing a full contingent of six battalions and 5,000 troops.

The Greywolf brigade is bringing just about everything needed for a ground war: tanks, Bradleys, infantry, engineers and artillery. That’s practically everything but the kitchen sink, and I’d wager they have some of those on hand, too. In fact, cooks in the brigade are probably setting up those field kitchens now.

Seriously though, 3rd Brigade is bringing an impressive task force to NTC for the rotation expected to last through mid-May.

Here’s the lineup:

From its regular Fort Hood units, the brigade has 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment (Bradleys); 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment (Bradleys, mechanized infantry and M1A2 tanks); 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment; and the 3rd Brigade Engineer Battalion.

Those units alone can bring some heavy firepower against any enemy. But the list of 3rd Brigade’s NTC force isn’t done yet.

The Greywolf Brigade also has with it a unit of Strykers with the 4th Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment out of Fort Bliss. And for some added firepower, the brigade is also bringing another unit of tanks and Bradleys with the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor out of Fort Riley, Kan.

The brigade is also bringing in some National Guard elements, making for a “full-sized” brigade and task force, said Maj. Junel Jeffery, 3rd Brigade’s public affairs officer.

“It’s definitely a special rotation,” said Jeffery, who left for NTC last weekend. “It’s a test.”

Indeed, it’s a test of how much butt can one fully operational, fully staffed U.S. Army armored brigade kick in one month’s time.

My answer is simple: A lot.

And I agree with Jeffery; this rotation is special. When I went to NTC 20 years ago, I don’t think we had nearly that much firepower or troop strength.

This NTC rotation is also refreshing in a way. In a time of Army budget cuts and drawdowns, it’s nice to see training done on such a high level. The 5,000 or so troops taking part in the rotation will get the absolute best training the Army has available.

NTC is no joke.

I guarantee it.

Jacob Brooks, a former Army tanker, is the Fort Hood Herald editor and military editor of the Killeen Daily Herald. He was stationed at Fort Hood and served with the 1st Cavalry Division from 1993 to 1996. Contact him at jbrooks@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7468.

Contact Jacob Brooks jbrooks@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7468

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