FORT IRWIN, Cailf. - Entrusted with the mission of training U.S. Forces to win the wars of tomorrow, Blackhorse Troopers draw on skills from the past.

Soldiers from Delta Company and Bravo Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, qualified as a Mechanized Infantry Battalion here Oct. 21-23. The qualification is part of the National Training Center's on-going shift from strictly counterinsurgency training, to Hybrid Threat.

Capt. Martin E. Wakefield, the B Troop commander, said Hybrid Threat combines elements of counterinsurgency, with large force-on-force maneuvers to deliver high-intensity scenarios to the rotational training unit, or BLUFOR.

"What we are attempting to do is replicate various threats from around the world," said Capt. Wakefield.

"Our goal is to adapt to whatever the BLUFOR's needs are," said Spc. Stephen L. Perritt, a Flowermound, Texas native, now a rifle team leader with B Troop. "This is one of our full-scale operations. We have anti-tank, Armor and Infantry running about. So, when the next unit comes, we can provide the best training possible for them."

The Mechanized Infantry Battalion, or MIBN, is comprised of three MICs, or Mechanized Infantry Companies. Each MIC consists of an Infantry platoon from B Troop, an Armor platoon from D Company and a recon section.

"We are the hunter in the hunter-killer team," said Capt. Wakefield of his Infantrymen. "We go out and fix the enemy, to allow our armored forces to maneuver on them. We also provide dismounted Infantry support as needed."

The qualification consisted of a 10-kilometer movement through the desert environment at the National Training Center. During the movement, the vehicles crewmembers search for enemy vehicles and defensive positions. When found the two units engage each other with the MILES laser training system. After a MIC goes through the lane, they switch roles with the Soldiers in the enemy positions, allowing for training on both defensive and offensive movements.

"We get to train on maneuvering through different terrain while on the tracks, attacking an objective, and defending an objective," said Pfc. Phillip D. Williams, a Miami, Fla. native, now a tank loader with 2nd Platoon, D Company.

The qualification not only tested the cohesion between the two units, but also required the Soldiers to learn a new skill set involving a combination of enemy tactics.

"We have had weeks of training on classic defenses and offenses," said 2nd Lt. Jeff S. Zingler, a Highland, Calif. native, now the platoon leader for 2nd Platoon, Delta Company. "We've trained all the way down to the drivers on specific formations and action drills. That's what we train on, and that's what we fight with."

The current tactics used by the 11th ACR Troopers, while operating as the opposing force, or OPFOR, provide a unique opportunity to see the world through the eyes of the insurgent, but Hybrid Threat allows them to train as they would fight.

"When we are insurgents, we get to see the battlefield from the enemy's point of view," said Pfc. Williams. "You know where you would hide, where you would lead someone, or where you would put the IED. This is more what we are geared towards, maneuvering tracked vehicles and firing big bullets."

Force-on-force training is something that the Soldiers at the National Training Center once took pride in. Blackhorse Troopers are looking to restore that pride.

"I know as a soldier, and leader, you come here expecting that sort of training," said 2nd Lt. Zingler. "Hybrid Threat will bring that skill set back here."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16