Table of Contents

Guardlife - Volume 31 No. 5

Brigade Holds Combined AT
By Command Chief Master Sgt. Joe Ortu

Pfc. Jeffrey Avetria, 1st Battalion, 113th Infantry, descends from the repelling tower. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Stephenson, NJDMAVA/PA.A smaller but much more experienced group of citizen Soldiers successfully completed Annual Training (AT) at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.

This year’s AT was the first time in recent memory where members of the 1st Battalion, 113th Infantry; 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry; 2nd Battalion, 102nd Armor; 3rd Battalion, 112th Field Artillery and the 5th Squadron, 117th Cavalry had the opportunity to train with each other simultaneously.

Many of these units’ members recently returned from active duty tours in the Sinai,
Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and Iraq, where some obtained valuable combat experience and others new skills and training techniques that they were able to share with each other.

Even though Soldiers returning from recent deployments were not required to attend this year’s AT, Brigade Commander, Col. Frank Caruso, said that the ones who did come had the opportunity to do combined training with soldiers of other units.

“All of our ranges and some of the exercises were open to more than one battalion. So for instance, if one battalion was running a range, that range was open and everybody participated, they just had the responsibility to run it. Some of the lanes we interchanged, too, ” explained Caruso.

Of those who benefited from the combined training were 13 Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 112th Field Artillery who were deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“We’ve never really experienced being associated with the Infantry firing mortars,” said the battalion’s Command Sgt. Mayor Tom Slowenski. “We sent some guys to the rappel tower who would never have had the opportunity to do that and the Infantry had it laid on and invited us to come out and train with them. We haven’t fired cannons in two and a half years, so just to get out here and do something different was real good experience.”

Pvt. Daniel Botero, Pfc. John Law, and Spc. Phillip Purnell (L-R), of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 50th Brigade, operate communication equipment. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kryn Westhoven, 444 MPAD.Besides the live mortar fire exercises, the Brigade trained with various weapons, such as the M-9 pistol, M-16A4/A2 rifle, M249-SAW, M250, threw hand grenades, and fired anti-tank AT-4 rockets.

They also had the opportunity to conduct Infantry maneuver lanes, mounted route reconnaissance across several wooded miles of FIG terrain, and conducted counter insurgency weapons training.

Reflecting on all their accomplishments, Caruso said that this AT helped the Brigade to grow stronger as redeployed Soldiers brought their real-life experiences to the training.

“As these units deployed to different locations they brought a little piece of that (knowledge) back with them. They’ve used that knowledge to make the units stronger. We are looking forward to building a great force and I think this was the first step to building a solid, energetic, trained force.”