FORT HOOD, Texas - "This is about honing their skills so that they're able to close with the enemy whenever they have to regardless of the environment," said Lt. Col. Quinton Arnold, the commander of 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, who hails from West Columbia, Texas. The 3rd BSTB revved up for a buddy team live-fire training exercise June 11 on Fort Hood. "

We have many different Soldiers doing a variety of different tasks. Many of them don't normally have to leave the FOB (Forward Operating Base) or get out into the fight with the exception of maybe the retransmission guys," said Arnold. In an effort to hone these Soldiers' combat skills, the 3rd BSTB is going through a series of training exercises including small arms qualifications, crew-served weapons, wheel gunnery and now buddy team live fire, he said.

In the live-fire exercise, a pair of Soldiers is expected to approach and engage a total of 36 targets, know how to react to civilians on the battlefield, and use a number of different engagement techniques such as reflexive firing, kneeling, prone, behind a wall, and even around a vehicle. The Soldiers must also transport a weighted litter from one point to another, Arnold explained.

Pvt. Shaun Blessitt, a member of 3rd BSTB's Military Police platoon from Slidell, La., is new to the unit and was excited to be at the range. "All training is good for you. Movement techniques, engaging targets and using live rounds helps to give you a feel of what's going to happen down range," he said. Blessitt appreciates the work that his chain of command does to make sure the Soldiers are properly trained. "I have great leadership," he said. "They'll do anything for you and they want to get you trained. They make sure you to know your job to the best of your knowledge and capability. I wouldn't doubt them for a second."

Pvt. Jesse Jones, a part of Headquarter and Headquarters Company from Panama City, Fla., operated the M-249 Semi Automatic Weapon during his iteration at the range. "It was great training; I got to get out of the motorpool, run around, and spend some energy," he said. "Working with other people in my company has been great. My battle buddy and I got to Fort Hood at about the same time and communicate really well. We know where all the targets are and I feel like we can handle ourselves out there," said Jones. "This is really the culmination of small arms weapons training for these soldiers so that when they're done, they're much more confident and competent in their abilities to use their weapons system and also in their abilities to engage the enemy.

Regardless of whether these are areas where they would normally serve," said Arnold. "It's focused not only on their deployment, but what they're going to need to do at the National Training Center," he said, "and also what they're going to do next month in July for Grey Wolf Prowl. It's an all time, everyday necessary skill for every soldier."