By Sgt. Shiloh CapersApril 10, 2017
ADAZI MILITARY BASE, Latvia - Soldiers of Company A, 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo., conduct a platoon live-fire and react-to-fire exercise here, April 9.
Soldiers from 3rd ABCT are deployed to Eastern Europe for Operation Atlantic Resolve, a U.S. led NATO endeavor to ensure peace by deterring aggressive actions in the region.
The platoon live-fire exercise, which featured four M1 Abrams tanks, included a series of offensive and defensive tasks, as well as a mortar platoon providing indirect fire.
The exercise allowed platoon leaders to focus on engagement area development and fire distribution, said Lt. Col. Stephen Capehart, the battalion commander for 1-68.
"We always say lethality is not in question," said Capehart . "We will go through and we will complete our mission, we will conduct everything we need to do on the objective. However it's getting to the objective, those fundamentals, those transitions, from the assembly area to the line of departure. How do we manage them? That's what our young leaders get today, by doing this type of live fire in a multi-domain environment."
The Army talks a lot about transitioning from movement to maneuvers; and transitions are hard, Lt. Col. Capehart said.
During the exercise, Alpha Company simulated the conditions of loss of global positioning systems and the loss of communication with each other.
Today was the first time the loss of GPS and communication systems were practiced during a live-fire exercise.
At the signal of purple smoke, the exercise continued under the use of hand held flags to control the direct fire element.
That task is difficult to train for but the platoon will receive more opportunities for training, said Capehart, adding that the ability is not one he's seen since he was a young lieutenant in Germany.
Terrain and limited space for maneuvers add another level of experience that operators seldom experience, Capehart added.
"You're getting quality and quantity of training that we have here, being forward deployed," Capehart said. "It not only supports our deterrence operations, in support of a NATO alliance, but it continues to build readiness with us."
Training outside the U.S. is critical to operations, said Capehart.
"It's an incredible opportunity for Soldiers, not only to be grounded in fundamentals, but we're also growing a whole new generation of leaders that can operate within NATO and understand the command structure," Capehart said. "Not only from training management portion but being able to execute operations."
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