FORT HOOD, Texas- In preparation for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan, 2nd Squadron "Sabre," 3rd Cavalry Regiment conducted a platoon live-fire exercise July 6-15 at Crittenberger Multi-Purpose Range Complex here.
The platoon-sized elements not only conducted battle drill training on entering and clearing a trench during the live-fire exercise, but also increased readiness and proficiency in reaction to a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) attack.
"This training is all about repetition and giving all of our leaders an opportunity to get it right by conducting multiple iterations. [The training] allows them to not only learn from initial mistakes, but it gives them a chance to go over it, identify challenges and try some new techniques," said Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, the Sabre squadron commander. "This is a precious period of time when we train and prepare to go to Afghanistan. So, all Troopers definitely have their game face on and are very focused on getting this right because they may have to do this actual mission while in Afghanistan."
The training was based on previous, real-life scenarios in deployed environments to ensure it was as realistic as possible.
"This training was very realistic because of all of the different scenarios we encountered," said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Adams, an infantry platoon sergeant with Fox Troop, 2nd Squadron, Sabre, 3rd Cav. Regt. "The exercise was invaluable to both new and experienced Soldiers because it helps build trust between teams, so we know how to respond in a deployed environment."
Throughout the exercise, platoons conducted live-fire iterations in various terrain during the day and at night.
Adams continued, "'Train as you fight' is what I always heard as a young Soldier coming up through the ranks, and it's what I teach my Soldiers."
"I've never deployed, so this will be my first deployment," said Pfc. Anthony Montano, a combat medic with Fox Troop, 2nd Squadron Sabre, 3rd Cav. Regt. "This training helped me apply my knowledge in a stressful environment and helped me identify my positions amongst my fellow Troop members when moving tactically through terrain."
In late summer, about 500 Soldiers from Sabre squadron will join the rest of the troops from the 3rd Cav. Regt. who deployed to Afghanistan in May 2016.
The big theme for this training event was working together, works.
"It's about integrating all of the tools you have at the squad and platoon levels, and working as a team between platoons in order to accomplish the mission," said Belinsky, as he watched and evaluated the training. "Sometimes junior leaders will get tunnel vision and only focus on their specific objective in front of them versus being a part of a larger operation. So, this training is absolutely crucial because junior leaders are not solely focusing on their set mission; they are cross-talking with the other units involved, and they have to work together to accomplish the mission."
Both Adams and Montano agreed that their platoon performed well as a team, despite several stressors.
Even the squadron commander, who certified the training, was impressed by the Troopers performance.
"I'm very proud of all of the Troopers. It doesn't matter if you messed up; what matters is we are going to identify the shortfalls and getting better as a team by doing the exercise again until we get it right before we deploy," said Belinsky. "Overall, they're maintaining a positive attitude, in which, is needed to sustain operations in a tactical environment and carries the day even in this rough heat. They are giving it their all, and doing exceptionally well."