Teamwork and great leadership are the keys to success for Iron Soldiers assigned "Cobra King," Company C, 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team during their platoon-level Table XII live-fire exercise (LFX) at the Fort Bliss Training Area, Feb. 22.
"The purpose of the platoon LFX is two-fold," said Capt. Stein Thorbeck, commander of the Cobra Kings. "First and foremost, it serves as a golden opportunity to get the crews and rifle squads out of the motor pool and into the field working together as one fighting unit, putting real rounds downrange. In other words, it builds confidence in our weapons systems and in each other."
The actual training exercise doesn't simply start with Soldiers going down their firing lanes, but there is an extensive train up that takes place prior and at all times of the day and night, which the Army calls the "crawl, walk, run" phases.
For this company, many of the Soldiers were new, which proposed a challenge for the team at first.
"The biggest challenge centered around the fact that we had one platoon made up of almost entirely new Soldiers who arrived to the company this past December," said Thorbeck. "We had to execute a pretty robust training schedule following winter block leave to ensure they were properly prepared to succeed out here. Their squad and section leadership did an outstanding job over the last two months getting the team ready."
Eventually, the Soldiers were trained to standard, and they were ready to work together on a platoon-level mission consisting of four Bradley fighting vehicles, the crewmembers who maneuver and command the vehicle, and multiple infantrymen in the rear of the vehicle who will eventually dismount and foot march to their objective.
The vehicles begin their iteration of training by lining up in their individual firing positions and engage their target when commanded to do so. They bound forward in teams of two out of the four allowing a team to maneuver under the security of the two other vehicles.
After maneuvering for the length of the training area, the platoon arrives within enough distance of their objective, which is a simulated village, and allows the Soldiers to dismount to obtain a tactical position before bounding on foot to the village.
Once they arrive to the village, Soldiers conceal themselves behind mounds allowing enough time to communicate the next part of the mission, which is moving even further to clear the houses in the village.
Squads then separate into teams to maneuver through the multiple houses in a swift and concise manner. Other squads are on the outside of the village ensuring the squads who entered the houses remain safe from the outside.
The mission is complete only after all houses have been searched, and Soldiers move past the objective.
"Looking across the company, 1st Sgt. Smith and I are very impressed with the aggressiveness, energy, and willingness to learn shown by each of these platoons," said Thorbeck. "Even while attacking this objective at 0400 in the morning under extremely limited visibility and after multiple dry and blank fire iterations, Cobra King Soldiers were still running hard, getting in the dirt, and high crawling into positions. Ultimately, a Soldier will always draw from an event what he or she puts into it. I have no doubt that these platoons learned something out here."