FORT IRWIN, Calif. (Feb. 17, 2016) -- After returning from a nine-month rotational deployment to the Republic of Korea, the Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment "Chargers," 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, have had quite a busy year.
Along with the expected incoming and outgoing personnel turnover, the last 12 months for them has been full of situational training exercises, gunneries and a stint at the Exportable Combat Training Capability exercise in Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where the unit partnered with the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team of the Mississippi National Guard.
Now, the Charger Soldiers are at it again as they serve as a subordinate unit of the brigade's sister unit, the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, during a rotation at the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California.
Many of the Soldiers are experiencing NTC for the first time, while others are old hands at this.
"We are as mentally prepared as we can be, but before you experience it, you don't know what's exactly going to happen," said Sgt. Joshua Kruger, a Charger Battalion M1A2 Abrams tank gunner and native of Campobello, South Carolina. "I'm used to the gunnery aspect, but the actual full spectrum operations we are getting ready to do here, I think, there are going to be a lot of firsts to take in and learn. I feel we are as ready as we can be having never done this before."
This is Kruger's first time at NTC, but he said he and his Soldiers are ready to soak up all the knowledge they can.
"We are just keeping an open mind and ready to learn and adapt with any situation that we are faced with," he said.
Since their arrival at NTC, Jan. 26, the Soldiers have kept busy inprocessing and conducting maintenance in preparation for their time in "The Box."
During the reception, staging, onward movement and integration (RSOI) phase of training, Maj. Aaron Morrison, the Chargers operations officer, has been overseeing inspections, mission planning, vehicle staging, conducting gear installation, and coordinating for ranges and ammunition.
"These routine tasks are integral to mission success at NTC and in real-world combat, since a version of RSOI is allocated in deployment schedules," said Morrison, a six-time NTC veteran. "NTC should be treated as an educational experience to develop better organizations."
While Morrison, goes about ensuring that everything is in place for the upcoming move into "The Box," some of the Soldiers are just anxious to get started.
"RSOI is lengthy," said Spc. Robert Quetschenbach, a Chargers infantryman on his first rotation. "My job and my passion lie on the frontlines."
But, he added, he does understand that other Soldiers in different jobs need that RSOI time to get their jobs done.
With the extensive training and a solid plan, Charger Soldiers expressed they'll come away from this experience successful and more knowledgeable.
"I'm feeling pretty confident going into this training," said Spc. Ray Rodriguez, a Chargers mortarman from Milwaukee. "The leadership has a good plan and has done a good job organizing. They make me feel confident in our missions."