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The 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, completed Gauntlet, the month-long training event, with a live-fire exercise June 19 across the vast training areas of Fort Riley, Kansas. Thousands of Soldiers from across the brigade participated in Gauntlet and the culminating exercise, which saw M1A1 Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, M109A7 Paladins and Apache helicopters from the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Inf. Div., move throughout the area, engaging practical targets and virtual enemies in a realistic scenario.

"This is what we call a culminating training event," said Lt. Col. Iven T. Sugai, 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery, 1st ABCT, commander. "My battalion has over 500 Soldiers, so this training opportunity allows me to exercise the breadth of those 500 Soldiers that I have, all the different systems, the weapon systems, and being able to bring all of that together and apply that to an enemy."

Sugai said that Army training begins at the individual Soldier level and continues in larger and larger units, building to an approximation of the Total Army environment the Soldiers will experience when deployed. He said large-scale exercises like Gauntlet allow commanders to combine Soldiers and equipment in ways that would be impossible in smaller training scenarios.

"Exercises like this allow us to bring all those disparate systems together toward a common goal," Sugai said. "If not for something like this, we wouldn't be able to exercise really the full capability of this unit."

The commander of "Hamilton's Own" said this sort of training is critical for Soldiers.

"Exercises like this give them a taste of what combat really is," Sugai said.

The culminating event included direct and indirect fire, breaching operations and coordination between ground and air units.

The large and versatile Fort Riley training area allows the 1st Inf. Div. to conduct complex exercises like Gauntlet without leaving the installation.

"Fort Riley is phenomenal -- just the space and what we can do with training here," Sugai said. "For us as field artillery, oftentimes you can go to a post and you're restricted to such a small area to be able to shoot from.

"What we found here at Fort Riley, and with the testing of our new weapons systems, it is a very permissive training environment. And that's what you need if you want to have that realistic training against some sort of opposing force, is you need a flexible training area. You need a staff that's willing to accommodate your training objectives. And if you don't have that, then you're not going to get that realistic training. Fort Riley has afforded us that opportunity."