FORT IRWIN, Calif. — In the scenario generated to train 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, things are looking positive.

Final pushes are being made to stop the enemy as stability operations are ramping up. To observe the training, Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, division commander, visits the training grounds known as “the box” daily.

It’s the final few days of the 14-day field portion of the unit’s decisive action training rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.

Ierardi traveled through the 1,200-square-mile box Wednesday in a Black Hawk, starting with the brigade mobile command post near the front lines of the fight.

“We’re managing the current battle,” said Maj. Steve Gventer, operations officer for the “Greywolf” Brigade. From this location, the brigade commander, Col. David Lesperance, and his team can work with Greywolf’s assets on the battlefield.

Farther back from the fighting, brigade staff is coordinating future operations, Gventer said.

Lesperance said “simultaneity” is the key to success in decisive action warfare, which combines force-on-force combat with the challenges and lessons learned through counterinsurgency operations conducted during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While one part of the brigade is securing a village and conducting stability operations, another may receive orders to roll out on a mission against mechanized forces.

“It’s the continuous nature of operations that makes this exciting,” Lesperance said.

He said the brigade has done a great job with the challenges presented to them, “because of the actions of individual soldiers.”

From the command post,

Ierardi traveled to visit with Greywolf’s 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, which, in the scenario, had recently secured a village and was interacting with the locals as part of stability operations.

Dismounted infantry soldiers went into the village and cleared buildings, just as they would in a real combat situation, to include “villagers.”

“To have the role players is amazing,” said Staff Sgt. Bud Francis, a dismounted squad leader for Bravo Company. “It’s important seeing that everyone in the city isn’t a bad guy.”

Capt. Spencer Propst, Bravo Company commander, said the role players and opposing force are just a small part of what the training center has provided that is just not feasible at Fort Hood.

Being able to maneuver and spread out in the box while utilizing all combat assets also has been an invaluable challenge, and new to many soldiers.

“The scale of what we are doing here is so much greater than … the way we’ve operated for the last 10 years,” Propst said.

During the simulated battles, casualties and other hindrances were incorporated, which allowed for replacement systems to be tested and soldiers to cross-train in other positions.

“We’ve seen some things we need to touch up on and certain areas we really know we need to hit,” Propst said.

Before leaving, Ierardi took a moment to meet with one of the company’s infantry squads and find out what they thought about the training. At each stop, he made a point to ask commanders if they had everything they needed.

“This is the premiere training opportunity for a brigade combat team and the soldiers really have done a great job as the challenges are presented to them,” he said.

To truly embrace the lessons learned in the box, the brigade must maintain a culture that encourages learning from mistakes, he said.

“We have to be able to accept the assessment and eternalize this feedback,” Ierardi said. “I’m proud this brigade has realized this is a learning environment. They are getting better every day.”

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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