FORT STEWART, Ga. - As the weather warms, the Georgia Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment Soldiers are conducting combined arms live-fire training over an extended drill weekend in March.
The live-fire exercises will validate six infantry platoons. But this represents just a fraction of the battalion’s total training package in which the battalion is exercising all of the Army’s warfighting functions.
“This is really a culminating event that is going to test our battalion’s combat power,” said Capt. Jared Crandall, commander of 1-121 Infantry’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company and full-time assistant operations officer for the battalion.
“Our goal for this exercise is to test those SOPs and fighting products we came up with,” said Crandall.
The battalion is delivering a combined-arms live-fire experience to the Soldiers, integrating indirect mortar fires into nearby impact areas and attaching combat engineers from the 177th Brigade Engineer Battalion to each platoon.
Spc. Marshall Reese from Alpha Company, 177th BEB, carried a Bangalore torpedo over his shoulder as he accompanied 1-121 Infantry Soldiers through tall grass to the objective area. The ordnance was used to clear obstacles during breaching operations with a large explosion.
“It’s a good experience,” said Reese. “It’s a lot of good training; definitely get to see the other side of what the infantry does.”
In addition to the kinetic infantry live-fire lanes, battalion Soldiers flexed their support capabilities.
Training included combat medic and casualty evacuations, intelligence planning with realistic tactical company orders, supply trains, electronic warfare assets, and Raven unmanned aircraft systems testing the heat signatures of command posts on the ground, verifying they were properly concealed.
The battalion coordinated with observers and training teams from Fort Stewart’s 188th Infantry Brigade and Valiant Integrated Services.
The training will lead to the organization’s scheduled rotation to the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Louisiana, later this spring. The battalion will be augmented with Soldiers from 2-121 Infantry to provide a full-powered combat battalion that will fall under the 44th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, a formation from the New Jersey National Guard.
“Seeing it all come together has been pretty incredible the past couple of days, knowing how much we’ve grown and solidified in preparation for JRTC,” said 1st Sgt. Michael Deeds, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the live-fire training exercise.
The battalion has made the most of its drills leading up to JRTC by conducting smaller unit drills and training at local ranges. Crandall said this training had given Soldiers exactly what they signed up to do.
“I would argue there’s not a brigade or battalion that is getting the quality training that we’ve planned out here, even comparable to active duty,” said Crandall.
“It carries the same level of intensity,” said Spc. Josiah Newport as he prepared to assault the objective in his first drill with the Georgia National Guard. “Everybody is ready.”
Deeds said he was confident about the Soldiers’ readiness for JRTC.
“I’ve been in the organization for a long time, and these are some of the best Soldiers I’ve worked with,” said Deeds. “They are incredibly adaptive, fit and disciplined, and they are ready to represent Georgia in the best capacity possible.”