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(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Throughout the month of January and into early February, the "Iron Rangers" of 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, built readiness at Fort Riley, Kansas.

The Iron Rangers recently returned from a deployment to South Korea and this past month completed crew and platoon gunnery. In Operation Iron Strike, the Iron Rangers built crews and platoons in the training area of Fort Riley. The past months marks the transition of the battalion into a combat-ready formation.

"I really think we are better trained at this point than we were getting ready for our rotation to the National Training Center," said Lt. Col. Jon Meredith, commander of 1st Bn., 16th Inf. Regt.

The Iron Rangers deployed to the National Training Center in August of 2016 after an abbreviated train-up period.

"We were able to build readiness while we were deployed to the Republic of Korea, and even though we are undergoing a high turnover of personnel, we are at a higher rate of readiness than we were 18 months ago," Meredith said.

The training the Iron Rangers underwent in the past month included gunnery skills tests, simulator training, individual combat platform qualification and platoon-level qualification. In addition to qualifications, the Iron Rangers exercised maintenance and sustainment operations.

The Iron Rangers are an infantry-centered battalion that uses the M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank.

"The high state of success of the battalion is a testament to the hard work of all the Soldiers of the Forward Support Company," said Capt. Erick Lee, commander of Forward Support Company G, 1st Bn., 16th Inf. Regt.

In the course of the past month, the Soldiers of the Forward Support Company and the vehicle crews spent many hours conducting routine maintenance and conducting emergency repairs in order to keep the battalion ready for training in the harsh cold climates of central Kansas.

"The FSC kept the battalion fueled, fed and maintained while facing below freezing temperatures and snow storms," Lee said.

The capstone to the Iron Rangers field training was the certification of Team Bravo "Bushmaster" into an International Response Company. The mission of the IRC is to provide a worldwide deployable response company team build on the M2A3, M1A2 and M1064 mortar carrier platforms.

From Feb. 9-11, the IRC conducted a company-level, combined-arms, live-fire exercise in the Fort Riley training area. The training mission featured day and night iterations of tanks, infantry carriers and infantry squads attacking multiple objectives across the prairie.

During the training, Team Bushmaster was able to use air assets of 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, for air assault and medical evacuation operations as well as call for mortar fire with the Iron Rangers mortar platoon.