<b>FORT STEWART, Ga. </b>-Since the beginning of the New Year, the operational tempo has increased for the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division as Soldiers prepare for deployment. A recent field exercise has helped the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment transform out of its old armored mindset and move one step closer toward combat readiness.

By incorporating light-wheeled vehicles into training for the first time, the "China Battalion" conducted a platoon level, live-fire exercise better known as Gunnery Table XII here, Feb. 1. In the past, the battalion's Table XII gunnery meant qualifying troops on heavily armored vehicles like the M1 Abrams main battle tank and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The mission changed for the former 4th Battalion, 64th Armored Regiment to meet the needs of the 4th IBCT's new light-fighting initiative.

"We went from using tanks to rucksacks, and now, we're integrating Humvees," said Maj. Jorge Melendez, who explained 3/15 Infantry's total transformation.

The battalion executive officer said that after reintegration and reset from the last deployment, "China," focused its training at the individual level with road marches and small arms marksmanship targeted at making troops fit to fight. He said Gunnery Table XII - collective training involving both dismounted patrols and target engagement aboard the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle - prepares Soldiers for their future missions.

"This is good preparation for the (National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.,) and Iraq," Maj. Melendez said.

Captain Joe Pimentel, Company B, 3/15 Inf. commander, agrees. He said Table XII gives his troops a realistic feel for what to expect in combat, adding that the training is especially important as two thirds of his formation are new Soldiers.

"This training allows Soldiers to learn what is 'right' here, so that we don't make any mistakes while we're downrange," he said.

The infantrymen fired crew-served weapons like the .50 caliber and M240B machine gun, as well as the M4 carbine rifle.

"We focused on fire superiority, proper spacing, target engagements and cover and concealment," said Sgt. Vern Jonah, B Co. "We want to use the least amount of rounds possible and focus on accuracy."

Sergeant Jonah, who deployed with the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID, in 2007-08, said Table XII definitely prepares 3/15 Inf. for convoy operations in Iraq.

"It also helped us with the most important (aspect) - teamwork," he said.

The "China Battalion" is slated to conduct company-level training next week. Following company training, the 3/15 Infantry will join the rest of the 4th IBCT for a brigade-wide field exercise entitled Vanguard Focus at the end of the month.

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