FORT PICKETT, Va. -- Soldiers from First Army's 174th Infantry Brigade came here last month from their base at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, to support an Army National Guard training exercise.
Exportable Combat Training Capability is a joint field training exercise instrumented by a brigade and designed to certify platoon proficiency in coordination with First Army. It provides an experience similar to a Combat Training Center to Guard Soldiers at their home station or a regional training center, helping minimize the cost and time away from Soldiers' jobs and homes.
The 174th Infantry Brigade will continue to assist this training through July 2 by providing observer coach/trainers to assess the readiness of the 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team from Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania.
Col. David L. Sanders, 174th Infantry Brigade commander, said the 174th did a good job preparing for the XCTC.
"The biggest challenge was identifying the risks and mitigating those risks by ensuring we had the most important pieces covered, so that we could provide the best assessment to the brigades," he said.
Soldiers trained and tested their strengths on 122 different lanes and participated in more than 80 instrumented after action reviews following training.
OC/Ts used video and two- and three-dimensional graphics to conduct after action reviews following some of the lane training to help the Soldiers understand what their strengths and weaknesses were, so they can make changes in the future.
The XCTC training includes engineer qualification tables, sling load training, medical casualty lanes, consolidated battle drills, live fire exercises using M777A2 Howitzers, area security training and battery defense lanes.
Because the 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is based in New Jersey, it is one of the 174th's geographically closest partners. Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Brinton, 174th Infantry Brigade command sergeant major, said the 174th has worked closely with the 50th in the last couple of years.
"The main focus is platoon-level training with company lanes scheduled toward the end," he said. "Each unit has improved steadily throughout this training process."
Sanders said he wants the 56th and 50th to leave the XCTC better than they were coming into it.
"We want to build readiness of the training units," he said.
While the National Guard Soldiers train day and night, the First Army OC/Ts continue to work beside them, observing each platoon carefully to ensure they give proper assessments.
"I'm very proud of our OC/Ts, because they will be working hard for two rotations," Sanders said. "I'm proud of what they're doing and the professionalism that I know is going to be apparent when they get out there."