By Sgt. Thomas CalvertAugust 13, 2018
CAMP NORIO TRAINING AREA, Georgia -- Under heavy fire, down a team, and several hundred meters from cover.
It was not the ideal start to a training operation for Staff Sgt. Phillip Cox, squad leader, Iron Troop, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, and his squad.
With their Georgian army counterparts acting as the opposing force, the Soldiers of Iron Troop conducted an air assault exercise to capture or kill a high value target as part of Noble Partner 18 at Camp Norio, Georgia, August 9.
Noble Partner 18 is a Georgian Armed Forces and U.S. Army Europe cooperatively-led multinational training exercise in its fourth iteration intended to enhance the readiness and interoperability of regional partners in a multinational environment.
In the mountains of Georgia, with its steep and jagged hills, thick brush, and restrictive elevation, the only landing zone with adequate cover would have forced the troopers to move through a choke point perfectly set for an ambush.
After evaluating the intel and approach points, Iron Troop's best choice was to land as close as possible to their objective with no fire support, said 1st Sgt. Robert Garvey of Iron Troop, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment. The troopers had to accept the risks involved and rely on their audacity to effectively win the day.
"We figured a bold movement would be the best way to go," Garvey said. "So we would just layer as many fires and supporting movements as we can, hit right on the 'X' and let the squad leaders rush forward and do what they do."
As soon as Cox and his squad hit the landing zone, they were under heavy enemy fire. He lost one of his fire teams in the opening minutes of the engagement and had to react.
"Due to previous training exercises and experiences, [my squad] was able to adapt quickly," Cox said. "As soon as their team leaders were telling them where to go, they were able to execute, and we made it all the way."
Cox and his Soldiers pushed for the tree line. After linking up with a sister squad, Cox took control of the gun teams, providing support-by-fire as their element moved through the enemy territory clearing buildings and searching rooms.
"I have pretty new team leaders and I haven't worked with them for very long, but anytime we get, we train," Cox said. "They kind of know my style [and] I know their style, so as soon as we're on the same page, we're able to adapt pretty quick with situations like the one today."
Execution at the squad level was the main focus of the exercise, Garvey said. It was an opportunity for junior leaders to step up and take charge in a high priority training exercise.
"We had a big talk before we came out here: 'The Troop is going to get you to where you need to be, and then squad leaders, it's your show,'" Garvey said. "Any [combat] situation still comes down to that squad leader controlling his squad, assaulting the enemy, and taking them out."
As the 2nd Cavalry Regiment Troopers seized a foothold in the rocky ground, they flushed out and eliminated their high value target. Despite the inhospitable terrain, a hasty assault under fire, and a large area to secure, their mission was a success.
"We kept that fluid motion going," Cox said. "We just reacted. They reacted well, they adjusted, and took it to the enemy all the way."
Garvey was impressed with his Troop's quick action and communication.
"They, through sheer repetition, just got more comfortable and more relaxed with each other," Garvey said. "They were able to execute and flow through this objective in a very short period of time."
Iron Troop is no stranger to conducting large scale air assault exercises in Europe, as they recently completed troop air assaults in Saber Strike 18, an annual combined-joint exercise conducted at various locations throughout Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
Garvey was particularly proud of the junior noncommissioned officers in his ranks and their development as leaders throughout the two international training events.
"NCOs have a tough job," Garvey said. "Leading soldiers is never easy. Training them, mentoring them; they become yours [and] it becomes a part of you. When you can see the progress through squad live fires developing into a group air assault where they all execute, they all communicate ... its pretty powerful for a senior NCO to see that and be a part of that."
The 2nd Cavalry Regiment Troopers have conducted several training events during Noble Partner 18 in preparation for an upcoming combined arms live fire exercise with multinational partners. The cohesion and development shown at the squad level has been impressive during the short exercise, Garvey said.
"I couldn't ask for more out of Iron Troop," Garvey said.