By Staff Sgt. Corey M. Ray, 5th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentMay 25, 2011
YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash.--Before the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Brigade had even finished setting up life support systems; they were already at the demolition site deep within Yakima Training Center blowing stuff up.
On May 22 breach teams from the “Sykes’ Regulars Battalion” were conducting familiarization training on bangalore torpedoes and claymore mines, courtesy of subject matter experts from the 18th Engineer Company.
“The Soldiers have been loving it, it’s hard to keep their heads down” said Sgt. Jared M. Harney, a combat engineer assigned to the 18th Eng. Co, 2-3 Infantry Battalion. “This is our bread and butter right here. Any obstacle that needs to get breached, that’s what we do.”
Squad and platoon training followed, and by the next day Alpha Company, 5-20th Inf. Bn. was working together as a cohesive unit capturing an objective.
The 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division is at YTC in preparation for an upcoming rotation to the National Training Center in California, where the Army’s original Stryker brigade will conduct full-spectrum operations for the first time.
Lt. Col. Steven J. Soika, 5-20th Inf. Bn. commander, has employed a bottom-up approach to training, with each training mission building off the last. Squad level training leads to platoon training, and company assaults are conducted in preparation for battalion maneuvering. The multi-echelon training will culminate in a brigade combined-fire exercise when commanders will synchronize indirect fires, close-combat attacks and aviation assets.
“Everything we are doing is focused on our current war-fighting missions,” said Lt. Col. Steven J. Soika. “We are supposed to be (on standby as) the contingency expeditionary force coming up in the next few months.”
“As the CEF the Arrowhead Brigade will function as a force that has to be ready, if called upon, to provide anything from humanitarian assistance to combat operations,” said Soika. “It is all part of the normal Army Force Generation cycle that units go through.”
Since the brigade needs to be ready for anything, the brigade is going back to the basics.
A major focus for the training here has been movement and maneuver drills, and understanding the concept of both. The 325,000 acres of shrub steppes that make up YTC has proven to be an effective training asset. Testing both man and machine as Soldiers conduct mounted and dismounted assaults, qualify on their weapons and work on their infantry skills, while using all available assets. Just because Soldiers are working on basic skills doesn’t mean that tasks are boring and repetitive.
“This is something that I have never done before”, said Pvt. 1st Class Meafua Filoialii, Jr., infantryman assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5-20th Inf. Bn., commenting on the bangalore torpedo demolition range. “It was fun blowing stuff up.”