BPTA, Poland — Battle Group Poland held its capstone multinational maneuver exercise called Rifle Focus from Oct. 4-18 at Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, exercising support capabilities, as well as command and control.
The training event brought together U.S. Army, Romanian, Polish Territorial Defense Force, and Croatian soldiers, testing them as a joint effort. It was the first of its kind training event. Each 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment company integrated support assets, competing with each other in a team-based competition. In a winner-takes-all bracket, each team received points as they engaged each other's objectives, squads and military vehicles.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Craig Boyles, the Battle Group commander, oversaw the entire training operation. “In combat, you’re facing someone just as good as you are, someone wanting to win as much as you are, so we’re replicating that,” he said.
Teams were tested in three phases: First, alert, marshal and deploy. Second, move into contact, and finally, attack and defend. The teams consisted of Infantry Soldiers, combat engineers, artillery, recon and support assets. It is a unique training experience because nothing is scripted or pre-planned to mimic the unpredictability of combat.
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jason Allaway, a platoon Sergeant with 3-161 Infantry “Dark Rifles,” loved seeing all of their training come together in a dramatic fashion for this event.
“It’s like when you get a jigsaw puzzle with one thousand pieces, and you have all the corners and edges, and you finally get to fill in the middle,” he said.
The competition was not just an event for the Army soldiers, but for all the NATO countries participating alongside the U.S. Army. Croatian Army 2nd Lieutenant Luka Pavičić was a platoon leader during Rifle Focus. “Rifle Focus was a great opportunity to work with our Allies in [the] field in order to test our tactics and find the best possible way to work together and achieve victory on the battlefield,” Pavičić said.
At the end, Bear Company came away with the victory. They were awarded a signature banner and tomahawk in a ceremony held on Oct. 26. The tomahawk represents the history of the Dark Rifles in their home state of Washington.
“I’m tremendously proud of the way our team fought collectively,” said Capt. Trey Botten, Bear Company commander. “We really used this opportunity to build Bear Company [and Battle Group Poland] into the premier fighting force that we want it to be.”