New York Soldier - two seasons, one training goal at JRTC
New York Army National Guard Spc. Joseph Lebeck, a logistics non-commissioned officer in the Headquarters Co., 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, makes last minute adjustments to the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System sensors on his Humvee at the... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT POLK, La. - For Spc. Joseph Lebeck, his second three-week deployment to the Joint Readiness Training Center was separated by almost six years and 80 degrees.

New York Army National Guard Spc. Joseph Lebeck, a logistics non-commissioned officer in Headquarters Co., 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, arrived July 12 at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) in Fort Polk, La., now for the second time and during a different season, with a different unit, and in a different position, but says he is confident that he will receive the same high-quality training.

From July 9-30, 2016, more than 5,000 Soldiers from other state Army National Guard units, active Army and Army Reserve troops arrived at Fort Polk as part of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team task force. The training provides Soldiers with the opportunity to practice integrating combat operations ranging from infantry troops engaging in close combat with the enemy to artillery and air strikes.

Lebeck spent his first season at JRTC in the winter of 2009 training for his upcoming deployment to Afghanistan with temperate weather. "The weather was mild, which kept the bugs away and made it easier to train," Lebeck said. "We were preparing for a deployment and glad it wasn't too hot yet."

This year the temperatures routinely reach triple digits on the heat index and have already presented Lebeck with a different set of challenges and training obstacles to overcome. Lebeck drinks over a gallon of water a day to combat the heat, and has noticed that there are secondary effects with extreme heat and hydration among his fellow Soldiers.

"There's a series of knock-on effects when it comes to the heat; it affects the Soldiers' morale, their situational awareness, and sometimes takes them entirely out of the fight," Lebeck said.

As hydration remains a constant for both troops and senior leadership, Lebeck's change from a line company in 2009 to a battalion headquarters position this year has provided him with a broader view of the battlefield.

"The first time I was here I was in a line company, and we only saw the small picture - only what we needed to know and do," said Lebeck. "This year I'm in a battalion position and get to see more of how units work with each other and how the battle is fought."

Learning how to endure the extreme heat while overcoming the challenging battlefield scenarios at JRTC helps Soldiers not only prepare for future deployment, but pushes them outside of comfort zones, he said.

"Being here pushes people to their limits, teaching them what they can accomplish under adverse conditions," Lebeck said. "The units earn a higher standard of readiness, while reinforcing what to expect in when deployed."

However, if you ask Lebeck which season he'd rather train in at JRTC he quickly says, "While summer is more realistic training, winter is a lot more comfortable!"