By Capt. Robert TaylorMay 29, 2019
FORT IRWIN, Calif. - Soldiers from the Idaho Army National Guard's 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team have mobilized to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, to participate in a large-scale exercise. This deployment is the state's largest since 2015.
"The National Training Center provides some of the most realistic training the Army has to offer," said 116th CBCT commander Col. Scott Sheridan. "This gives us the opportunity to exercise our warfighting functions in a way we can't anywhere else. 116th CBCT Soldiers have trained extensively over the past four years and are ready to demonstrate their tactical and technical proficiencies in an austere environment."
The 116th CBCT is comprised of more than 3,000 Soldiers, with roughly 1,800 Soldiers from 137 Idaho communities and 1,200 Soldiers serving in battalions from the Montana, Nevada and Oregon Army National Guards.
Through force-on-force simulated combat operations, Soldiers will have the rare opportunity to train against a near-peer force, provided by the U.S. Army's 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Soldiers will also live-fire major weapon platforms, to include the M1A1/A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank, the M2A3/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the M109A6 Paladin and the M58 Mine Clearing Line Charge.
The NTC is one of the Army's largest combat training centers and is roughly the size of Rhode Island. Its desolate climate and varied terrain will test the brigade's ability to sustain itself in a large and austere environment.
More than 1,000 Soldiers in Army National Guard units from eight additional states and Puerto Rico, along with three U.S. Army Reserve units, will join forces with the 116th during the rotation to complete the brigade's combat power. In addition, the Idaho Air National Guard's 124th Fighter Wing will provide close air support using A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft during the 116th CBCT's simulated combat operations.
"Everybody in this task force is a member of the 116th CBCT regardless of the patch on your shoulder," Sheridan told senior battalion leaders Sunday during a unit movement rehearsal.
The task force comprises an additional 56 National Guard companies, platoons or sections, to include the Arizona Army National Guard's 158th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and the California Army National Guard's 1st Assault Helicopter Battalion of the 140th Aviation Regiment.
The 116th CBCT last attended the NTC in 2015. The training rotation is the brigade's capstone training event in its four-year training cycle before the unit is available to complete a real-world mission in 2020.