FORT PICKETT, Va. -- Soldiers of the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are getting valuable training and feedback from Soldiers of 188th Infantry Brigade Task Force, First Army Division East, a U.S. Army Forces Command branch, during the 10-day eXportable Combat Training Capability rotation at Fort Pickett until June 26. XCTC is designed to train and validate platoons on tasks that support offensive and defensive operations in daylight and hours of limited visibility.

Units throughout the brigade are undergoing 40-plus evaluations in a realistic field environment, testing their training on mission essential tasks. As with all Army training there is always an after action review for Soldiers to evaluate what they did well and where they can improve.

"XCTC utilizes the Army's new AAR approach of self-discovery," said Staff Sgt. William Wadely, an observer coach trainer with First Army on the route reconnaissance lane. "At the end of each lane we help units self-discover their shortcomings and come to their own conclusions on how to improve themselves."

"If you solve your own problem yourself you have more ownership of that solution, you're going to be more okay with it than an outside person telling you you're wrong and this is how you fix it," said 1st Lt. Asa Miller, platoon leader for the scouts of Winchester-based Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Wadely said he advised units preparing for XCTC to utilize drills to stay proficient on new tactics and techniques, keeping doctrinally proficient. The scouts of 3-116th Infantry Regiment did just that in preparing for these evaluations.

We received plans for the lanes almost a year before hand and on our drill weekends we would practice for the different lanes, such as route recon, conduct surveillance, and so on, said Miller. Their mission-focused training has paid-off for them during these evaluations so far.

"Overall we've been doing really well, we've been able to execute our mission, hit our objectives--we're trained up and we're executing well, that's what the OCTs are telling us," said Miller. "Now we're getting into the finer points, like how we can do camouflage better and the OCTs are really helpful with that because they have so much experience."

Miller said that by building the difficulty of the lanes as units progress, Soldiers are being challenged, but not overwhelmed. This graduated process by First Army Soldiers demonstrates their commitment to providing effective training to improve the readiness of reserve and Guard units.