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Tuesday , October 15 2019
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Home | Tag Archives: ready first brigade

Tag Archives: ready first brigade

Combat team receives first tanks following armor conversion

FORT BLISS, Texas – Soldiers with 6th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, received their first M1A2 SEP V2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks August 21.

Fourteen tanks arrived as part of the 1st ABCT conversion from a Stryker brigade to the Army’s sixteenth armored brigade combat team June 20.

Ready First Brigade was chosen based on a military value analysis (MVA) of Fort Bliss demonstrating efficiency and effectiveness in aspects such as training facilities, land for maneuvering, deployment infrastructure, and quality of life for Soldiers and families.

The division will now be made up of three armored brigade combat teams and meet the Army’s intent of having a more lethal and capable force better able to overmatch any potential near-peer adversaries.

“Now we have the ability to decisively engage the enemy whenever our scout troops come into contact with them,” said 1st Lt. Daniel

Serrano, troop executive officer with 6-1 CAV. “This gives the squadron a lot more firepower as opposed to (before with) the Strykers.”

The entire training and certification process will be supervised by an Abrams Operator-New Equipment Training team from the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command. The process will give the armor crewmen both classroom and hands-on training before testing the tanks on a field during a gunnery live-fire exercise this year.

Soldiers with 6th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, conduct preventive maintenance checks and services on newly acquired M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks at Fort Bliss, Texas, Aug. 22. | U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kris Bonet

“Every tank has an OPNET instructor on it and they are taking them (the Soldiers) through that training,” said David McLelland, an OPNET instructors. “They are being instructed on the correct way to do safety checks on the driver, commander, loader and gunner crew compartment stations. And then we get them ready for gunnery.”

Pvt. Jacob Valenzuela, an armor crewman with 6-1 CAV, was one of various Soldiers who waited eagerly for the arrival of the tanks. He graduated one-station unit training and arrived at his unit back in February.

“Before the tanks arrived, I was learning the concepts of tactical movement and patrolling,” said Valenzuela. “After six months, it was surreal to see everything come to fruition; seeing it all come together. I feel satisfied.”

The Ready First Brigade is also expecting to receive Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Paladin artillery systems and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) as part of the conversion later this year.

Author: Staff Sgt. Kris Bonet – 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division

Soldiers with 6th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, conduct preventive maintenance checks and services on newly acquired M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks at Fort Bliss, Texas, Aug. 22. | U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kris Bonet

Fort Bliss’ Ready First Brigade Set for Challenges at NTC in California

Fort Bliss’ 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team is about to go through the Army’s toughest training challenge.

About 4,000 soldiers from the Ready First Brigade – as it is nicknamed – are heading off to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

The brigade’s advance parties have already left and the main body will be leaving in late September. The brigade will spend most of October at NTC – undergoing a month-long training rotation.

Once there, they will go through an elaborate war game and will be tested by the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

The 11th ACR serves as the opposing force at NTC and tests visiting brigades 10 times a year. This unit is the Army equivalent of a scrimmage partner.

“We’re looking at NTC as another way to get better,” said Maj. Jim Trask, 1st Brigade’s executive officer.

When they finish, they will be ready to go anywhere in the world and do any mission the Army wants them to do, Trask said.

This will be Ready First’s fourth trip to one of the Army’s combat training centers in about three years.

4-17 Infantry
Regiment during Iron Focus 18.2. US Army photos by SGT Brian
Micheliche, 1/1 AD PAO/Released.

The brigade went to NTC in June 2015 and October 2016 with a trip to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisana, sandwiched in between in January 2016.

That prepared the brigade to go on a deployment to Afghanistan from January 2017 to October of that year.

“The old adage is everyone tries to win,” said Trask, from Omaha, Nebraska. “But I think you don’t really win at NTC. It is more about learning, developing – what you have done well and what we need to improve on, areas we didn’t even think about.”

The brigade will basically go through a practice deployment – in which it moves its personnel and equipment about a thousand miles from Fort Bliss to California.

Once there, they will also be coached and mentored by a staff of observer-coach-trainers. They run and guide the exercise. They also serve as powerful role models. Collectively, the OCTs – as they are known in Army lingo – are experts in virtually every Army job.

Trask said the brigade headquarters will get plenty of practice at NTC – overseeing logistics and sustainment for the brigade’s battalions

16th Brigade Engineer
Battalion during Iron Focus 18.2. US Army photos by Staff Sergeant Kelsey Miller, 1/1 AD PAO/Released.

and soldiers, coordinating artillery support, collecting and distributing intelligence and conducting mission command.

Of course, soldiers will get tested in almost every way – from having to deal with lack of sleep, to living in dirty, dusty conditions for a month to primarily eating Meals Ready to Eat or MREs.

“They will be living outside,” said Sgt. Maj. Cesar Sanchez, the brigade’s operations sergeant major. “They will be attacked daily and they will have to conduct nonstop operations. I think it will toughen them up.”

Ready First has been training for this rotation since January – when it went through testing for the difficult-to-earn Expert Infantryman Badge.

Soldiers then went through a traditional gated train-up culminating with the battalion-level Ready Focus and brigade-level Iron Focus, both at the vast Fort Bliss training area.

Sanchez agreed that the upcoming rotation is a powerful way for the brigade to see where it needs to improve and stress and test all its systems and procedures.

2-3 Field Artillery
Regiment during Ready Focus. US Army photos by Staff Sergeant Kelsey Miller, 1/1 AD PAO/Released.

“They will be able to see what their shortcomings are, so they can get better at the end of it and refine all their systems,” said Sanchez, who is from Fresno, California.

Sanchez said it is a powerful way to make sure everyone in the brigade is as prepared as possible for whatever mission lies ahead.

“Next time, you can put this in your kit bag so you can be even better,” Sanchez said.

Maj. Patrick O’Rourke, the brigade’s operations officer, said the brigade should view its recent deployment and previous trips to the Army’s combat training centers as a badge of pride instead of an excuse or crutch.

“It is beneficial to us, that our organization has been forged by these events,” said O’Rourke, from Niceville, Florida, “It allows us to be better prepared, instead of saying we are worn down.”

“We can use them as a means of saying we are stronger than other organizations,” O’Rourke said.

***

By David Burge – Special to the Herald-Post

David Burge is a news producer with ABC-7 in El Paso. He has also worked at newspapers in California, New Mexico and Texas. Covering the military is a particular passion.

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