VAZIANI TRAINING AREA, Georgia - U.S. Soldiers, assigned to the Eagle Troop, 2d Squadron, 2d Cavalry Regiment, conducted their second live fire exercise during Agile Spirit 19 at the Vaziani Training Area near Tbilisi, Georgia, on Aug. 1, 2019.
U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Timothy Simmons, infantry senior sergeant, Eagle Troop, 2d Squadron, 2d Cavalry Regiment, reflected upon his troop's first LFX on July 29, 2019: its successes and lessons learned.
Eagle Troop along with the rest of the squadron participated in a tactical exercise without troops a day prior to prepare for each troop's live fire exercise.
"The TEWT prepared us because it allowed the leaders to be able to have situational awareness to execute the commander's intent within the safety guidelines to accomplish the mission," said Simmons.
The TEWT included senior leaders and staff, giving the troop the opportunity to train on comprehensive weapon system planning and tactical employment on the Georgian terrain. Mounted weapon systems employed by the Eagle Troop included the 30mm Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle - Dragoon and the Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle - Javelin with dismounted Soldiers on the M240 machine gun, M249 squad automatic weapon, M4 rifle, M320 grenade launcher and more.
"It first started in Vilseck with physical training," said Simmons, describing how his troop prepared for the LFX to stay on the objective maneuvering though the hilly terrain.
Allowing and empowering the Soldiers and squad leaders to do squad level training "in order to get their bodies right for this condition" played a factor in Eagle Troop's preparation and included ruck marching, Army preparation drill exercises for the upcoming Army combat fitness test, according to Simmons.
"As far as actual mountains [and] hills, it takes a little getting used to, but once you start working on the fundamentals of mountaineering, because we have two mountaineers in the troop, it [gets] kind of easy," said Simmons, before explaining the required training for mountaineers. "The Army has two mountain schools in its service, so that's the Northern Warfare Training Center [in Alaska] and the Army Mountain Warfare School out in Vermont. I used to be an instructor at the Northern Warfare Training Center."
The Eagle Troop gained confidence in their weapon systems and each other on day one of their LFX, testing each Soldier "to dig deep" and "to have intestinal fortitude," stated Simmons
"We learned a lot of lessons: preparations, [pre-combat checks, and pre-combat inspections]; the more attention to detail you pay, it pays off in dividends on the actual execution of everything you do," said Simmons. "[Noncommissioned officer] leadership [and] communication, clear and concise, was pivotal in helping us execute what we had to do."
Eagle Troop had two hours to reach the objective based on conditions and their orders with the quickest time being 90 minutes during the day.
"[It took] a little longer in the night just because you're walking under [night observation devices], depth perception is a little off, so it's a little slower, a little more methodical," said Simmons. "But, then, you pay attention more. I think the night run was even better than the day run."
For the upcoming week, the troop will conduct engagement area development and defensive operations during the squadron LFX and will have the combined arms live fire exercise with the Georgian Defense Forces.
"There are a lot of subtasks in that, which each troop will have to do internally to build the overall picture for the squadron commander," said Simmons.
Simmons and his Soldiers also conducted training with the Georgian Soldiers on battle drills conducting room breaching and clearing.
"It's important for us to work with the Georgians because they're our partners," said Simmons. "We need to build those relationships [all over] the world, so we can make them better, and they can make us better. We all learn something new from each other every day, and I believe the Georgians have a lot to bring to the table."
According to Simmons, AgS19 gives the opportunity to the U.S. and Georgian Soldiers to learn the many similarities that they share in how they process operation orders and execute the mission.
"It's an honor to be out here with my commander, my troops and the Georgians in this multinational exercise," said Simmons. "I think this will be good for the Soldiers, good for 2CR and good for the nation."