FORT HOOD, Texas-Soldiers with Battery A, 26th Field Artillery Regiment, (Target Acquisition Battery), 41st Fires Brigade assisted pilots from the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, Virginia National Guard, with the combined operation, Wild Horse II, on North Fort Hood, Texas, March 17.

During the exercise, Task Force Reaper conducted air reconnaissance; inserted teams into hostile areas occupied by "insurgents"; and performed landing zone operations. Wolfpack troopers provided the man-power needed to get the operation off the ground.

"It's important to be able to do your job in a garrison environment and under deployed conditions," said Capt. Dashiell Ballarta, a Pflugerville, Texas native, commander for the Btry. A, 26th FA Regt. (TAB), 41st Fires Bde. "However, it's equally important to master that training that makes a Soldier a Soldier. Any Soldier should be able to pick up a compass and go from one point to another and/or defend a convoy if the worst happens."

Just as Soldiers from 2nd Bat., 224th Av. Regt. received training from the exercise, the Wolfpack troops concentrated on securing a hostile area, squad tactics, land navigation, establishing and observation post, and establishing an LZ.

"We have a lot of new Soldiers in the unit, so it's important to continue to train on our warrior tasks to get the new Soldiers ready and keep the current team prepared for any future deployments," said Sgt. Jamel Abdulaziz, from Warren, Ohio, a team leader with Btry. A. "You have to be ready when the time comes to deploy and to fight. It's too late to point fingers when you're on a plane heading east or west."

Operation Wild Horse II is one of the last training exercises the 2nd Bat., 224th Av. Regt. will undergo before the unit deploys in a few weeks.

"It's good to be able to come out here and get some good training in and help another unit get ready for their deployment," said Pfc. Jonathan Almeida, from Miami, Btry. A. "It's also good to get out here and train with your teammates and develop that confidence and trust before you deploy."

"A few hours of sweat now can successfully take you from one mission to the next mission downrange," said Abdulaziz.