FORT HOOD, Texas- Although shooting rounds at targets dozens of kilometers away might be their primary occupation, the war has put a new emphasis on having a well-rounded artillerymen.

For Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, early November on Fort Hood afforded an opportunity to practice the skills they have used to conduct missions during their most recent deployments, where they spent less time on the cannons and more time working with the local population.

During the training, troopers had to patrol and react to improvised explosive devices, conduct a base defense, take part in a quick reaction force and conduct weapons training at various ranges.

"This is the first time they've had a chance to conduct missions like we will when we deploy," said 1st Lt. Kyle Adair, a Lawton, Okla., native and an observer/controller for the training.

As part of the training, Soldiers had to work together with a "local population" and Iraqi Security Forces from a replicated Iraqi village.

"We wanted to make it as real as we can make it," said Adair.

Because of how the training was set up, platoon leaders had to gather intelligence from the locals and put together a plan on how to use this information to help defeat terrorists in the area.

"Because these are the operations they will be doing [when they deploy], it's vital they learn these things," said Adair. "They have to step away from their [military occupation specialty]; it gives them a far broader experience."

Although many Soldiers have had years of combat experience, new Soldiers have filtered into the unit since it returned from Iraq nearly a year ago.

"This is the first time I've trained on scenarios like this," said Pfc. Nathaniel Wyatt, a cannon crew member from Aransas Pass, Texas. "This has helped me realize what really takes place."

For Wyatt, the training brought in focus how important and complicated it can be to work with the local population.

You have to pull security, watch out for terrorists and still try to trust the locals all at the same time, he explained.

"This has really been a chance to learn and practice some new skills," he said.

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