BIDDLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Pa. — Over 4,500 Pennsylvania National Guard Soldiers with the 56 Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), 28th Infantry Division completed their monthlong National Training Center, or NTC, rotation at Fort Irwin, California, June 16 to July 15.
The brigade spent the last 13 months preparing for NTC, which is significantly fewer training days than a typical rotation preparation.
“We were assigned to the rotation ahead of schedule, which reduced our training and planning time, but the brigade overcame all obstacles and greatly improved our lethality and overall readiness during the rotation,” said Col. Jon Farr, commander of the 56 SBCT. “NTC is truly the capstone training event for Brigade Combat Teams, and 56 SBCT was fortunate to have this opportunity.”
Typical NTC rotation preparations include eXportable Combat Training Capability, field training exercises, communications exercises, company gunnery ranges and other brigade lever exercises, which take two full training years.
“Having only 13 months to prepare for the largest training exercise the military offers was less than ideal; however, I’ve never seen these Soldiers shy away from a challenge or fail to exceed expectations,” said Capt. Natasha Ingram, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 56 SBCT.
the National Training Center, commonly referred to as “The Box,” is a vigorous, high-intensity multifunctional training where participants face real-world scenarios and a high-speed, well-trained opposing force. The training is designed to force leaders at all echelons to make deliberate decisions they would face on real-world deployments.
Pvt. 1st Class David Weiner, a medic from the 1st Battalion, 112 Infantry Regiment, 56 SBCT, said, “NTC was hard and frustratingly difficult at times, but trusting your leaders and staying positive allows you to succeed.”
Throughout the training, units found themselves in the heart of the Mojave Desert, battling 100-degree temperatures, facing challenging scenarios in several urban settings and facing role-playing citizens.
“I am approaching the 3-year mark in command, and this rotation is among the top 3 highlights of my time in the Independence Brigade,” said Farr. “The Soldiers and Airmen of the Independence Brigade exceeded all of my expectations. We ask a lot of our Citizen Soldiers, and they never fail to deliver.”
After successfully completing their NTC rotation, the 56 SBCT is preparing for several task force rotations over the next few years.
“I am in awe of everything our Soldiers have achieved, and I hope that the men and women of the Independence Brigade leave Fort Irwin with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Moving over 4,500 Soldiers and their equipment across the country, building combat power, fighting a tough enemy under extremely austere conditions for 14 days, and then returning all of us home,” said Farr.