LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, engaged a series of planned targets and objectives during a combined arms live fire exercise at Tactical Base Gamberi in Afghanistan May 13, 2015.
A platoon from Company B was supported by UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and AH-64 Apache helicopters from Task Force Eagle Assault, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade deployed to the region in April to support the Resolute Support Mission in eastern Afghanistan.
The event was a culmination of four months of training and coordination that began as soon as 3rd BCT arrived in country. The main focus of the exercise was to demonstrate how the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces could utilize their vast ranges to conduct their own weapons training in coordination with training cycle management the new Regional Military Training Center at Tactical Base Gamberi.
"Today we had a progression training timeline for the Afghans for them to actually see the exercises that we went through to prepare for this event," said Capt. Kingsley Spiller, the operations officer for 1st. Bn., 187th Inf. Rgt., Task Force Leader. "It is possible to go out and train during fighting season."
A small crowd of Afghan officers from the 201st Afghan National Army Corps joined the leaders of the Train, Advise, Assist, Command-East to observe the exercise from a hilltop. A number of coalition advisers were joined by their ANA counterparts, who received on-site mentorship on fires coordination and the air space management process. Afghan officers also accompanied the leaders who observed and controlled the training from directly behind the maneuvering Soldiers, walking the range throughout the completion of the scenario.
The exercise also coupled a new platoon leader and an experienced platoon sergeant together to lead a group of Soldiers who executed the training exactly as they had rehearsed many times in garrison and combat environments.
"For my guys, it's just another training exercise, and they treated it as such," said 2nd Lt. Lee Alexander, platoon leader, 2nd Platoon. "They knocked it out, they executed and said 'alright what's next? Let's drive on and do the next thing.'"
For Soldiers in the platoon, the live fire exercise was a break from their usual missions providing force protection for the base and local area by conducting partnered patrols with the ANA.
"Finding the time to go to the range and prepping for it was the hardest part," said Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Delosreyes, the platoon sergeant. "Keeping up the tempo, conducting our patrols at night to an air assault here … I think that was the biggest challenge, having the energy to prep for the CALFEX."
Wednesday's exercise is the first step in integrating ANA counterparts into the combined arms training. Future planning will allow the Afghan Soldiers to plan and conduct progressive training in preparation to conduct a partnered evolution.
"We're gonna restart the training cycle and start it with the ANA, including every step to get to that point," said. Delosreyes.