Inside The Box

For the first time, a Fort Hood unit is participating in a “decisive action” training rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.

Earlier this month, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, soldiers left for the remote Army post in the Mojave Desert to train under the Army’s newest doctrine.

“We use the decisive action training environment to bring together offensive, defensive and stability operations ... to get rapid dominance and conclusion to conflict,” said National Training Center and Fort Irwin Command Sgt. Maj. Lance Lehr.

The entire rotation at Fort Irwin lasts nearly 30 days, with half of that spent in the vast training ground, commonly referred to as “the box.”

Nearly the size of Rhode Island, the 1,200-square-mile training area contains 11 mock villages and, Lehr said, allows units to “pretty much do everything they would do in theater.”

There will even be a living, breathing “contemporary operating environment force,” that includes an opposing Army, insurgents and criminals, Lehr said.

The “Greywolf” Brigade visited the center in 2009, but trained under counterinsurgency operations.

“(Decisive action) is definitely harder, but it takes the lessons that we’ve learned over the last 10 to 12 years in the (counterinsurgency) environment and the things that we have not been doing as much — offensive and defensive combined arms maneuvers — and adds that’s in,” Lehr said.

Greywolf spent about six months preparing for the rotation and many of the soldiers said they were looking forward to it.

“I enjoy getting back into it, and to see soldiers in the training I used to do,” said 1st Sgt. Shane Hanover, of Greywolf’s Charlie Company, 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, during a December training exercise at Fort Hood. “It’s more force on force and less public affairs.”

All of the nearly 4,000 soldiers in the brigade, plus elements of the division headquarters and 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, are at the center.

Troopers are one week into a 14-day field training exercise.

As he oversees the training, Lehr said he is looking for adaptable and agile leadership.

“I want to see them meet the requirements of their operating environment, and see them be able to conduct regular and irregular warfare against conventional and complex threats,” he said.

So far, he said he’s seen good things from a division he once served in.

“This brigade has done an outstanding job,” he said. “There’s a lot of things to do and a lot of things to learn. What I ask them is, ‘Get better every day while you’re here and we will have a better fight force for it.’”

The Daily Herald will provide daily coverage from Rose L. Thayer’s stay inside “the box” beginning Tuesday. Look for photos, videos and blogs throughout the week at

Contact Rose L. Thayer at 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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