By Pfc. Jennifer Spradlin, 16th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentMay 30, 2010
FORT IRWIN, Calif. - Soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment travelled to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., to participate in a large-scale training operation before the regiment deploys to Iraq later this summer.
Entire villages and forward operating bases were constructed at NTC to replicate the experience of being in Iraq - in addition to the benefit of Arabic-speaking role-players who represent the population, the Iraqi Security Forces and violent extremists.
At Joint Security Station Abar Layla, named for the village that lies on the outskirts of the barbed wire, the Soldiers of Ironhawk Troop, 3rd Squadron, 3rd ACR, are building teamwork and getting valuable experience from the realistic setting.
"NTC is helping to train the Soldiers all across the spectrum," said Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Bevington, platoon sergeant for Ironhawk, 3-3 ACR. "NTC has great facilities. All the towns are set up for Soldier success and allow for different scenarios to benefit the lowest private all the way up to the commander."
Bevington has more than 12 years of Army service and two tours to Iraq to draw experience from. He said that now is the time for Soldiers to maintain their discipline and get the most training value out of NTC.
"We have no distractions here. We're here to train and that's it. There are no outside influences," said Bevington, a Howard, Ohio, native.
Soldier resiliency will be key during the upcoming deployment and is being tested consistently by the NTC simulation.
"NTC has put us in austere conditions and forced us to consider the weather elements," said 1st Lt. Joshua Scoggin, Ironhawk executive officer. Scoggin enlisted and served in the Air Force for nine years prior to becoming an Army officer. This will be his first deployment. "It's definitely lack of sleep, lack of food at times. It teaches you to push through. You learn to make decisions under those types of pressures."
Scoggin said it is during stressful situations the Soldiers learn the most about teamwork.
"When you are put under pressure like this, you soon realize that you have to rely on the guy next to you. Teamwork is everything out here. When you're isolated, as we are here at Ironhawk Troop, we have to act as a family," said Scoggin. "If one thing doesn't get accomplished and one person slacks in an area, it adds secondary and tertiary effects on the entire group."
Another adaptation for the Soldiers of Ironhawk is the new part the Army will play in Iraq: a secondary role. Patrols are being conducted with the permission of and often in conjunction with Iraqi authorities. Missions are focused on information gathering and building stronger relations with Iraqi people.
"We as the American Army are doing everything by, with, and through our Iraqi counterparts," said Scoggin, a Decatur, Miss., native. "What it allows is the Iraqi force to take the lead now."
Bevington said that he looks forward to seeing the progress made since his last deployment when the U.S. Iraqi Status Of Forces Agreement had just been enacted.
"It's a good feeling," said Bevington. "It's come a long way over the last seven or eight years to this point. It's rewarding."