FORT MCCOY, Wis. – U.S. Army Michigan National Guard Soldiers, known as the “Iron Battalion,” traveled to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin for eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) training from July 21 through August 12.
Approximately 400 Michigan Army National Guard Soldiers conducted several training iterations to provide realistic training in unfamiliar terrain to build readiness.
“It’s new terrain; they don’t know what to expect, said Cpt. Mitchell Kittle, Alpha company commander. “At Camp Grayling, Michigan [where the unit typically trains], everyone knows what to expect.”
The U.S. Army National Guard’s XCTC program enables brigade combat teams to achieve the platoon readiness to deploy, fight and win battles worldwide.
“The Soldiers are learning to maneuver day and night in various conditions,” said Sgt. First Class Gustavo Diaz, operations non-commissioned officer, 3-126, Higher Headquarters Command. “Through this training, they increase the company’s overall performance.”
The training space at Fort McCoy provides a challenging contemporary operating environment with degraded and contested domains in a realistic time and space to train platoon-level tasks.
The Michigan Guard Soldiers trained against simulated oppositional forces (OPFOR). Real-world adversarial operational environments are constantly changing, so the OPFOR team must present different challenges for U.S. forces.
“The OPFOR is to act as the enemy and give us an adversary to engage to better prepare ourselves for future conflicts, said Sgt. First Class Adams Griswold, platoon sergeant, Charlie Co. 3-126. “Overall, I feel like they did a very good job providing this for us.”
The 3-126 Soldiers also participated in live-fire training that consisted of uneven, rocky terrain, C-wire, breaches, team cooperation, limited critical communication, and night training with Night Observation devices (NODs).
Training in a fast-paced, high-intensity, unfamiliar environment challenges the Soldiers. The XCTC aims to develop adaptive, flexible, resilient, and robust leaders through rigorous planning, preparation, execution, and assessment.
“It’s been pretty fun, being able to practice my job in the field environment as opposed to being back in the rear, making runs, staying up late, really making some good memories with many people,” Spc. Benjamin Ray, supply specialist, 3-126, Higher Headquarters Command. “I’ve been learning a lot of cool stuff about the infantry guys.”
XCTC is the U.S. Army National Guard’s program of record that enables brigade combat teams to achieve the trained platoon readiness necessary to deploy. Fort McCoy’s motto is to be the “Total Force Training Center.” Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin, located in the heart of the upper Midwest.
The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services nearly every year since 1984.