VAZIANI TRAINING AREA, Georgia – With the Georgian live-fire exercise under their belt, U.S. Soldiers with the 4th Squadron, 2d Cavalry Regiment have made their mark in history in more ways than one.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Jacqueline Page, armor officer and scout platoon leader, assigned to the Outlaw Troop, 4/2CR, served not only as the first female armor officer for the squadron but also for the entire regiment, leading the live-fire exercise at the Vaziani Training Area in Georgia from September 7th to September 18th.
Designed to enhance regional partnerships and increase U.S. force readiness and interoperability, the exercise allowed participants to conduct sniper and demo ranges, situational training exercises, live-fire exercises and combined mechanized maneuvers. The Saber Squadron led the multinational training exercise for the regiment and served with approximately 2,800 service members from Georgia, France, Poland and the United Kingdom.
Born in Guichi, China, and raised in Potomac, Maryland, Page’s historical feat comes after serving in the U.S. Army for two years.
“I think it’s been an honor to be the first female armor platoon leader [with 2CR], but I think it’s something that I often forget and don’t think about just because I’ve always been an armor officer my entire career,” said Page.
“When it comes down to it, I think a lot about my goals in the squadron, and my goal is to be the best scout platoon leader possible not the best female scout platoon leader possible. To me, it’s not a gendered thing, but I do think it is a really cool historic thing.”
Page, who received support in planning and executing the exercise from Staff Sgt. Johnny Reddie and Sgt. Sage Heishman, reflected on the initial stages of the planning phase.
“After being briefed the concept of operations, my platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class [Keith] Cook, and I immediately went to a map and conducted a quick map reconnaissance,” said Page. “Neither of us had attended prior events in [the] Vaziani Training Area, but for the most part, we knew the terrain was going to be open with rolling hills.”
Training in the country of Georgia was a first for the Potomac native. Planning an exercise of such magnitude was another first for Page who assumed command of her platoon just shortly after the squadron’s participation in the Expert Infantry Badge and Expert Soldier Badge events in July.
“With that in mind, we knew there were going to be a lot of different direct firing engagements that we could use,” said Page. “After that, we worked closely with our troop commander, Capt. [Matthew] Fuentes along with the 4/2 [current operations team] to develop a better plan for execution.”
Page worked with a few sections within the squadron to safely and tactically execute the exercise.
“We mostly worked with the S3 [training and operations section] and then some with supply kind of organizing and resourcing ear pro and Peltor [headsets] just due to the safety requirements for the weapons we were utilizing,” said Page.
“I’d say the biggest section that we worked with was actually the Georgians for the Javelin execution, so [we utilized] the interpreters that we had to talk through the logistics of how we wanted the Javelin to go off and move into each event so that it flowed nicely.”
Working with 2CR entails operating Stryker vehicle variants to include the Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle-Dragoon and the Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle-Javelin. Page described the fighting positions of the Stryker vehicles and their mounted weapon systems along with the use of their dismounted weapon systems.
“At the smallest level, we had dismounts using their [assigned] weapons, the M4s, up to machine gunners and their [assistant gunners] using the M240s,” said Page.
“Moving into the [anti-tank] systems, we had the AT4 [anti-tank weapon], the [Carl Gustaf] was used, [and] the Javelin system was used by the Georgians. For mounted systems, we used our ICV-Ds, so the Dragoons had the 30mm [cannon]. Then, the ICV-J had the [Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station-Javelin], so they had 50 [caliber machine guns] that they were shooting.”
According to Page, her platoon received an observation post for both dismounted and mounted battle positions.
“[With] the battle position, we decided to [use] three ICV-Ds and two ICV-Js,” explained Page. “For most of the iterations, we were playing with where we wanted to place each vehicle. We ended up going with two [ICV-Js] on the sides and three [ICV-Ds] in the middle. It provided the most command and control to allow the section to fight and have different changing fires and talking guns.”
Organizing the weapon systems down to orchestrating the very second that they fired proved to be the challenging aspect along with establishing the safe distances and requirements for each weapon system. The event began with the Georgian Soldiers firing the Javelin.
“We took them up during the [reconnaissance], showed them their position, and talked though that they would start the event,” said Page on how they positioned the Georgian Soldiers during the exercise. “The AT4 would go off, and then our AT4 gunner would physically take them [the Georgian Soldiers] to the safe location next the M240s and M4s, their fighting position, because the Carl G was going to go off and shoot.”
Page detailed their battle positions even further.
“With the Carl G, within 100 meters, they have to have double ear pro, the foam ear pro and Peltors over [that], due to the concussive nature of the weapon system going off,” said Page. “We had to make sure that we timed it correctly so that we moved the Georgians to a safe location while also [with] the dismounts laying down suppressive fire with the M240s and M4s and give time for the Carl Gs to emplace so that it flowed safely.”
Various mentors throughout the squadron along with friends and peers have encouraged Page not only during the exercise but also since her joining the unit.
“I’ve been so lucky to have Saber Squadron be my first unit with Lt. Col. [Aaron] Kaufman and now Lt. Col. [Jerry] Wood,” said Page. “I’ve had numerous opportunities and seen the opportunities they afford their troopers to succeed. I’ve just been so honored to have Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Guerrero, the sergeant major of this organization, because he’s probably one of the biggest mentors I’ve had since getting to this unit.”
Page looks forward to achieving more of her professional goals which includes attending ranger school, a goal since her time as a cadet at Syracuse University. Soldiers who have earned their ranger tabs have coached her along the way.
“Some of my instructors had ranger tabs; it was one of those things that’s kind of ingrained into you as cadet that this was an excellent school of leadership,” said Page. “It was something that took a lot of hard work, but the pay off at the end is worth it. Moving through my short career so far, it’s something I’ve been working toward. It’s become less of a question of if I go to ranger school and more of when I go to ranger school.”
She also looks forward to working with other nations and taking advantage of the high operation tempo of the 4th Squadron.
“I really enjoy being in this unit and the unique opportunities that you have being stationed in Europe,” said Page. “I think a lot of people look at 4/2, and they just think about the high OPTEMPO. They don’t take the time to take in various seconds or experiences that they had during that high OPTEMPO.”
With leading Soldiers as her primary focus, Page urges her Saber team to cherish each moment of every training opportunity and the unique experiences that they will gain.
“In this one short exercise, I can definitely think back to a few seconds to commanding the Dragoons to fire that’ll stay with me for my entire career,” said Page already thinking ahead as she has demonstrated throughout her career.
“Watching the 155s [M77 155mm howitzers], 152s [152mm towed gun-howitzers] and 120s [M120 mortars] all just rain fire on one tank in the open while we were shooting rounds down range, it’s things like that [to] remind me I really enjoy being an Army platoon leader.”