A first time for everything -- including NTC
March 27, 2014
FORT HOOD, Texas -- The National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., smack-dab in the middle of a vast expanse of the Mojave Desert, provides a multitude of training opportunities, which are unlike anything else in Army.
For Staff Sgt. William Bishop, a multiple launch rocket system section chief with Battery B, 2nd Bn., 20th FAR, TF Pegasus Fires, this was his first experience at the NTC.
"It was pretty great," said Bishop, a native of Odessa, Texas. "It was a lot of what I hoped it would be; a lot of training, and working a lot of integrated fire support with the different units."
The training offered Bishop and his crew valuable insight into how they fit into the fight.
The exercise kicked off with a scenario that included the invasion of a hypothetical hostile country, which was initiated with a barrage of artillery shells and rockets. Once the dust had settled, tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles from 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div., moved through the area cleared by the artillery fire. The next phase of training included engaging an enemy army played by the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.
"It opened my eyes to how it would actually go in a real battle," said Bishop.
The exercise was designed to test the processes, tactics, and techniques from the squad-level all the way to the brigade-level. Not only were the individual units challenged, this exercise tested the coordination between 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. and 2nd Bn., 20th FAR, TF Pegasus Fires.
"We actually got to see what we were doing with our support," said Bishop.
Bishop said during this exercise, he and his crew members were able to see the effects of their artillery strikes. They watched as convoys and their security escorts moved to staging areas to wait for the artillery to clear the way.
In addition to seeing their own piece of the puzzle, Bishop and his crew members were able to observe other jobs within the Army and how they fit into the larger picture.
At one point during the training, Bishop and his crew members were discovered by the enemy forces in their hidden position and "destroyed" as part of the training scenario, he said .
Once his crew was removed from the training, they had the opportunity to see how Soldiers in the battalion aid station evaluate and treat casualties and how mortuary affairs personnel handle remains.
For Bishop, an eight-year veteran, the whole thing was an eye opening experience.
"We are not just firing rockets for fun, there is a battle going on out there," said Sgt. Major Edgar Fuentes, the top enlisted advisor for 2nd Bn., 20th FAR, TF Pegasus. "We don't see the enemy like armor or the infantry, but we shape the fight for them."