FORT POLK, La. - Soldiers from the New York National Guard's 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, known in the Army as the "Fighting 69th," face off against two enemies at the Joint Readiness Training Center, JRTC, Ft. Polk, La., July 9-30, 2016.
More than 675 Soldiers from the New York National Guard's New York City based 1-69th Infantry are joining over 5,000 Soldiers of New York's 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and another 1,000 Soldiers from other state Army National Guard units, active Army and Army Reserve troops.
The Soldiers are conducting combat training in a realistic environment that features a well-trained opposing force, civilian role-players on the battlefield, high-tech systems which monitor the action and observer-controllers to evaluate unit actions.
"Our focus here at JRTC is to exercise every war-fighting function -- to improve on our training efficiencies from last year's XCTC and ensure that Soldiers receive the highest quality training available. Our objective is to take back what we learn and improve our overall combat readiness," said Maj. Christopher Culpepper, 1-69th Infantry Executive Officer.
Culpepper refers to the unit's participation in the Exportable Combat Training Capability or XCTC exercise in 2015 at Ft. Drum, N.Y., where the Soldiers and leaders honed their combat skills in what the Army defines as "decisive action." The training focused on air assault operations, platoon level situational exercises and tactical maneuvers, artillery and infantry live fire, logistics support operations and chemical, biological and radiological training.
Here they will continue to refine those skills and practice integrating combat operations ranging from infantry troops engaging in close combat with the enemy to artillery and air strikes.
"Everything we do sets the conditions for success and everything we have done for the past two years has been in preparation for this JRTC rotation," Culpepper said.
The biggest differences JRTC offers -- the dedicated opposing force and the high heat and humidity in Louisiana.
"We're fighting two specific enemies here - the opposing forces and the sun," said Sgt. Hendry Rodman, a senior medic assigned to Co. B, 1-69th Infantry from Manhattan.
"Any prolonged exposure to the sun is problematic. It's an uphill battle -- adding high heat and humidity to exertion and heat casualties can cripple even the most fit person," Rodman emphasized.
"We have quite a few younger, newer medics, so this is a great opportunity for them to test their training and skills as well," Rodman explained.
"This is what we train for and it's our job to keep our Soldiers in the fight," Rodman said.