CAMP MURRAY, Wash. - After a year in Poland, supporting the State Partnership Program in the Kingdom of Thailand and responding to multiple state missions, the Guard members from 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment, could have gone easy this annual training.
However, that isn’t the “Dark Rifle” way.
“We planned and executed a comprehensive annual training, including a full-scale command post exercise (CPX), starting with a full military decision-making process, then rapid decision-making synchronization process, two tactical operating center (TOC) jumps, TOC defensive battle drills, air insertion, night driving and mortar ranges,” said Lt. Col. Krystian Derda, commander of 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment. “It has been challenging but fun.”
While much of the battalion conducted annual training during March’s Cobra Gold 23 in Thailand, the rest of the battalion took to the Yakima Training Center to take part in “Rifle Wrath 23,” an externally evaluated CPX in a simulated force-on-force fight.
“The battalion-size opposing force was free thinking and free to win, with its own command structure,” said Maj. Tom Haydock, executive officer for 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment. “It was by far the best CPX I’ve participated in.”
The simulation was fluid, requiring the battalion staff to be in “run” mode from the minute they started. The exercise involved tracking the fight while receiving battle updates from subordinate command posts. The staff had to react with fire and maneuver to the enemy as troops transitioned from movement to contact to an attack on enemy locations.
“We wanted to push the staff and see what we were capable of. We needed to test our battle drills and processes to ensure that everyone responded to a free-thinking OPFOR. Everyone really seemed to enjoy the challenge,” said Derda.
While much of the annual training was focused on the CPX, the Dark Rifles also took part in mortar live fire using the dismounted 81 mm systems and the 120 mm Stryker MCV platforms. Lastly, the Guard members took part in an air insertion at Camp Seven Mile near Spokane thanks to the Guard members from 1st Battalion, 168th General Support Aviation.
“I hope that our Soldiers enjoyed this annual training. We tried to make every training event challenging and bring something different each time,” said Derda. “We continue to challenge our Soldiers but also remind them that the Guard is a great place if you take the time to explore the opportunities provided.“