ORAHOVAC, Kosovo - Apache and Bandit Troops of 3rd Squadron, 61st Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, assigned as the Forward Command Post for the Multi-National Battle Group - East, increased lethality and critical thinking capacities by conducting a known-distance (KD) shoot and a buddy-team live-fire exercise (LFX), June 11-28.

Platoon leadership gauged the initial proficiency of each individual. They then coached and mentored the Soldiers in maneuvering and closing the distance with the targets. However, as the training progressed, Soldiers realized that mobility on its own is not enough to be lethal. In addition to maneuverability, they had to hit the intended target and gained an appreciation for the necessity of accuracy with their weapon systems. With the basic principles of lethality in mind, every buddy team rush, trigger pull, sight picture, and bullet tallied towards a more deadly and mobile buddy team.

The range also provided opportunities for junior leaders and Soldiers to critically determine calculated decisions. The dry and blank iterations served as the crawl and walk phases so that they could exercise and refine individual processes. Once solidified, two Soldiers came together to become a team that operated confidently and competently on the range to make rapid choices to engage targets within their lane.

Throughout the exercise, the Soldiers gained a newfound appreciation for the age-old expression of closing with and engaging the enemy. Everyone performed each iteration to the standard to facilitate the Army's initiative to sharpen its lethality and mold nimble minds.

"It is important to have an event like buddy-team live-fire because it increases lethality through the knowledge that the Soldier next to you will engage the objective violently," said Sgt. James Gould, a team leader from 3rd Platoon, Apache Troop. "Events like this that build lethality, competency, and critical thinking are key to increasing overall readiness of the team."

Soldiers from the FCP also worked alongside NATO Kosovo Force's (KFOR) German contingent to facilitate the event. This allowed American Soldiers to train with the German contingent at Orahovac.

"The German soldiers we worked with were of the highest caliber. We exchanged instructional classes on our weapon systems," said 1st Lt. Brady Carroll, platoon leader from 3rd Platoon, Apache Troop. "Substantial critical thinking is necessary while maneuvering and communicating with an Allied unit. Training together as well as instructing each other truly makes us a more lethal force."

Overall, the training event proved pivotal in sharpening lethality, spurring maneuverability, and encouraging junior leaders to critically think and make integral choices.

"The buddy-team live-fire exercise definitely gave our Soldiers the opportunity to test their lethality and critical thinking skills," said Maj. Blake Richter, the FCP Deputy Commander. "This training also allowed the Squadron to maintain readiness during our NATO KFOR mission."

The Squadron, from Fort Carson, Colorado, is currently deployed in support of KFOR, a NATO-led international peacekeeping force that has been responsible for maintaining a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement in Kosovo since 1999.