'Black Jack' Brigade prepares for Iraq by spending time in Kuwait
January 9, 2009
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait -- Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division's "main body" arrived at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, on Jan. 7.
The arrival signaled the "Black Jack" Brigade's near completion of its deployment to the Central Command Theater of operations. The Soldiers are here to conduct training and participate in briefings that will prepare them for their eventual destination: Iraq.
The training in Kuwait includes mandatory events like roll-over drills, in which a humvee simulator is flipped over with the crew practices escaping the vehicle. The Soldiers will also go through counter-improvised explosive training and have a chance to familiarize with the components of the different vehicles they will be using in Iraq. Soldiers will also have a chance to attend optional training including: convoy, live-fire practice; sniper training; and counter-insurgency training, amongst other things.
"It gives [Soldiers] a chance to practice basic Soldier skills," said Washington, D.C. native Maj. Les Steele, 2nd BCT's brigade planner.
According to Steele, the training gives Soldiers a set of circumstances they can perform admirably in and provides a base of knowledge to work off of.
"It is a good starting point," said Del Rio, Texas native Spc. Gregorio Reyes, an aviation operations specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd BCT.
Reyes, like many Soldiers of 2nd BCT, has been preparing for this deployment since the brigade's last rotation to Iraq, which ended in early 2008.
The living conditions and amenities at Camp Buehring, which include a variety of American eating facilities like Taco Bell and Burger King, are very nice, said Reyes.
"I was pleasantly surprised with the facilities," said Reyes. "I expected a lot worse."
The transition into Kuwait has also gone very well for Reyes.
"Everything has gone smoothly," said Reyes. "It is pretty well organized, and there is good unit cohesion."
Reyes, like many fellow Soldiers, has been looking forward to his first deployment to Iraq, where he will be working with an aviation cell coordinating air to ground elements.
The preparations included readying families for the coming deployment.
"I spent as much time with my family as I could," said San Antonio native Pfc. Alan Fisher, a paralegal specialist with the brigade's legal office.
While Kuwait might not be the 2nd BCT Soldiers' final destination, the mission here is no less important. The training the Soldiers receive here will save lives and improve the unit's mission readiness. It is a vital stop for the Soldiers of 2nd Brigade, and other units preparing to venture into Iraq.