FORT BLISS, Texas - A "crawl, walk, run" approach is used by organizations who know to accomplish large-scale tasks, it is best to advance in stages. This methodology includes the U.S. Army and National Guard, who assess readiness from Soldier to the unit level, through individual, crew and collective training.

Since arriving at Fort Bliss, Texas in August 2019 for mobilization activities, Soldiers in the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team have been honing their skills with weapons' training using this step approach.

"Our Soldiers, after completing the initial SRP (Soldier Readiness Processing), must qualify with their individual weapons," said U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Sidney Baker, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team operations sergeant major. "This proficiency, with either the M4 rifle or M9 pistol, is important for force protection and to prepare the Soldiers for what they may be doing downrange."

After completing the individual weapon's training on small arms ranges, Soldiers advance to crew-served weapons, which can include the M2, M249 and M240 machine guns.

"All of these building blocks are key parts to our collective training that enables us to operate at the higher level," said U.S. Army Col. Robert Bumgardner, commander of the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team. "We train as we fight and the more proficient we are at the individual, squad, platoon and higher levels, the more successful we are executing our roles under stressful conditions."

The 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team has trained at Fort Bliss on multiple occasions for other events, including the XCTC (eXportable Combat Training Capability) exercise in August 2018.

"This is my fourth time at Fort Bliss," said U.S. Army Sgt. Andrew Buffaloe, a North Carolina National Guard Infantry Soldier in Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team. "I was here for a deployment to Kosovo, XCTC and now for this deployment."

According to Baker, Fort Bliss and its facilities provide commanders with flexibility and that ability to have control over their training objectives to meet their METL (Mission Essential Task List) requirements.

Echo company in the 236th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, qualified crews on the M2 .50 caliber machine gun on August 27, 2019. U.S. Army Spc. Sean Greenly, an all-wheeled vehicle mechanic in the unit said that training was going very well, and he and his fellow Soldiers were enjoying the range time.

"Weapons safety is the biggest thing," said Greenly. "I volunteered for this deployment and I'm looking forward to it."

The 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team is comprised of over 4,000 Citizen-Soldiers from four states, the North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia National Guard, who will deploy once all weapons and mobilization tasks are complete to support Operation Spartan Shield.

"The ranges here at Fort Bliss are world-class, where we can use all of our weapons systems," said Bumgardner. "This is a phenomenal facility where we can walk onto a range and execute training like we need to."