By Spc. Ryan Hallock, 28th Public Affairs DetachmentMay 26, 2011
YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. -- The rolling hills of Yakima Training Center can be seen in the distance from the rear hatch of an armored fighting Stryker vehicle. After several days of training in sunshine, the sky has shifted with rain soon on its way. In the foreground there is a ranger tab resting directly above the Arrowhead patch that Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment wear, many on both shoulders. Adjusting the sight picture reveals Cpt. Don Kanase, Bravo Company commander, who looks on as his fleet of Strykers files down a rugged dirt road toward a live-fire weapons range.
The Stryker crews conducted scenario-based exercises May 21 in which they were given certain amounts of time to engage various targets ranging up to 1000 meters in distance. The Strykers used two main remote weapon systems: the .50 caliber machine gun and the MK-19 automatic grenade launcher. The crews alternated, rattling off rounds downrange until the targets were destroyed.
“For my Stryker crews to be proficient on the most casualty-producing weapons in my company is extremely important,” Kanase said. “We have been non-stop training to get to that proficient level.”
Kanase departed the range in his Stryker and headed out to view his Soldiers who were concurrently training on a M-4 semi-automatic rifle range. Along with zeroing and qualifying with their weapon systems, the infantrymen practiced close-quarters marksmanship, where they advanced on targets and fired in controlled pairs.
For Pfc. Robert Frain Jr., rifleman, B Co., 2-3 Inf. Regt., this is just another day in the life of an infantryman, which starts at 5 a.m. and ends only when the training is complete. After qualifying expert by hitting 37 of 40 targets, Frain joined his fellow Soldiers in the short-range marksmanship drills involving turning and shooting, running and kneeling.
“I had fun doing the SRM,” said Frain, who was getting used to living outdoors and shooting in a different environment.
The infantrymen are working toward qualification on all weapon systems and proficiency at the platoon level. The training provides the Stryker platoons, which are a combination of light infantry and weapons platoons, preparation for 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division’s trip to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., slated for August.
“For the first time in Stryker history we’ll conduct full-spectrum operations,” said Kanase, “which focuses on training for total warfare.”
This type of training stresses the importance of Soldiers bringing all of their gear and equipment to the field without the opportunity to roll back to the forward operating base once the mission is completed, which was the case in the initial stages of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.
“When you initially go into a country, you don’t have anything,” Kanase said. “In a high-intensity conflict in full-spectrum operations, you don’t have that FOB.”
Around the clock, versatile training comes with the job of an infantryman, and the Soldiers of 2-3 Inf. Regt. have proven that throughout the ranges of Yakima.
As the sun sinks below the green mountains at Bravo “Blackhorse” Company’s base camp, around which Strykers and Soldiers provide 360 degrees of security, the infantrymen eat chow as the day winds down.
The captain, whose goal when enlisting as a private 13 years ago was to be a company commander, looks on at his Soldiers, who successfully qualified with their weapon systems.
“I have the luxury of seeing Soldiers develop,” Kanase said. “From the private to the brand new second lieutenant, I have the opportunity to see them become professional infantrymen.”
For the leaders of Bravo Company, the day was not over, as they met long into the night to plan upcoming missions. Once the briefing was concluded they each found a piece of real estate on the ground, unpacked their sleeping bags, and grabbed a few hours of sleep before the next day’s training commenced.