By Brandon OConnorMay 22, 2019
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- The barracks have been cleaned, the equipment has been delivered and the Soldiers from Task Force 1-28th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division have officially arrived to lead Cadet Summer Training at the U.S. Military Academy.
The task force is based out of Fort Benning, Georgia, but to meet the needs of summer training Soldiers have also come from Forts Bragg, Campbell and Stewart. At the peak parts of the summer, 1,200 Soldiers will be based at Camp Natural Bridge to support summer training.
The task force received its official orders in January and the last five months have been spent planning to move more than a thousand Soldiers and their equipment to West Point. Multiple tanks, Humvees, artillery cannons and other vehicles had to be shipped to New York for the summer.
They have also had to work to validate their own skills in order to be prepared to train cadets throughout the summer and will go through one more West Point-led validation before starting training.
"Whatever task they have been tasked to instruct, their knowledge base, because they have to know so much in order to teach it, has expanded," Sgt. Maj. Travis Quade, Task Force 1-28 Infantry operations sergeant major, said of preparing the Soldiers to lead training. "The guys who are doing marksmanship are head and shoulders above a normal E-5 sergeant in the Army for their knowledge of weapons systems."
The task force Soldiers will be spending the summer leading all parts of summer training including the marksmanship ranges, land navigation courses and more. There will also be Soldiers walking each of the training lanes evaluating and grading the cadets. One of the companies within the task force will be spending the summer working as the opposition force the cadets will be battling against throughout the summer exercises.
While their main job is to train the cadets, the time spent in the field also serves as training for the Soldiers themselves and a chance to hone skills and improve their knowledge as they teach the cadets.
"The opposition force company is going to be out there doing squad tactics the entire summer," Quade said. "They are going to be the best trained squads in the Army at the end of the summer. The squad is the basic maneuver element in the Army. If you have good squads, a good platoon or company is easy after that."
The initial Soldiers arrived nearly a month ago and spent their time preparing Camp Natural Bridge for the summer after it was shut down for nine months, receiving their equipment deliveries and making sure everything was ready for training. The rest of the Soldiers arrived last week, and they will undergo their final validations this week before the first batch of cadets moves out to Camp Buckner within the next few days.
"It is a very unique opportunity for us. The cadets we will train are the future leaders in the Army," Capt. Travis Howard, S3 plans officer-in-charge for Task Force 1-28 Infantry, said. "The cadets don't get a lot of interaction with enlisted Soldiers. For our Soldiers, they get to understand how their interaction with cadets will influence their future officers of what the enlisted were like that they worked with, what the experience was like and the level of development they get to put into these future leaders."
The majority of the Soldiers will be at West Point through the end of training in August, but a small detachment will stay through Branch Week in September before leaving.