BodyFORT POLK, La. Aca,!" As the war on terror continues to evolve, so to must the training of those who fight it.

For the Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, January was a month of learning and growing as a team as they overcame obstacles and accomplished training missions during a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.

"[JRTC] is a place where a BCT can come and do collective training as platoons, companies or battalions with realistic and challenging training missions," explained Sgt. Maj. Christopher Frediani, the operations sergeant major for 2nd BCT."

JRTC training, like most other training in the Army, goes in a crawl, walk and run sequence. Black Jack Soldiers spent nearly the first two weeks at JRTC conducting practice missions and honing the combat and support skills they had been training on at Fort Hood.

After completing the crawl and walk portions of their training, Soldiers jumped headlong into a realistic combat environment known as "Force on Force" where bases and convoys were besieged by enemy combatants and all missions were required to be jointly conducted with host nation security forces.

"This training helps make our Soldiers ready for whatever mission they will be doing," explained Frediani. "It makes a huge difference."

During force on force, Soldiers planned and conducted all missions with their host nation security force partners, and worked closely with government, provincial and locals leaders to ensure that the Black Jack brigade was best serving the host nation's interests.

"This exercise has opened my eyes to what operations in theater are truly like," said Spc. Robin Williams, a Laguna Beach, Calif. native and an intelligence analyst for the 2nd BCT. "You really get the sense of being in a combat environment."

Williams, like many of the younger Soldiers in the brigade, has never deployed before, making the experience he gained at JRTC especially important.

"I came to this exercise with an open mind and did not bring any preconceived notions," he said. "Now that it's all said and done, I am much more confident in my analytic skills and in my team. We are going to bring a lot more to the fight because of this training."

While JRTC lasted less than a month, Black Jack Soldiers managed to conduct more than 200 training missions, giving them a broad view of combat operations.

"This is one of the best training resources a unit can have before deploying," said Frediani.

Frediani felt that the Soldiers greatly benefited from working with the foreign security forces that were an integral part of their day-to-day operations.

"It takes away some of the uncertainty of working with people from a foreign country," he explained. "This gives the Soldiers exposure to what different cultures might be facing and takes a little of the uncertainty away."

Although this is certainly not the last training that the Black Jack brigade will do before its next deployment, its Soldiers can add the multitude of lessons learned from their rotations at JRTC to their war fighting knowledge, and feel better prepared to tackle any training or combat missions that they will face.

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