FORT POLK, La. -- "Iron Knight" Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, deployed to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., to help train paratroopers for an upcoming deployment to Eastern Afghanistan.
More than 350 "Raider" Brigade Soldiers spent the month of January at the U.S. Army National Training Center, in a role-playing capacity, acting as Afghan National Security Forces, to assist 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Soldiers training for their upcoming deployment.
Soldiers of 1st Bn., 66th Armor Regt. drew from experience gained during the 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div.'s recent deployment to the Arghandab District of Kandahar City, Afghanistan, where the Raider Brigade partnered with Afghan security forces.
"These Soldiers are intimately familiar with both the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Uniformed Police," said Capt. Geoffrey Shraga, officer in charge of Mission Command cell, 1st Bn., 66th Armor Regt. "They lived, patrolled and conducted operations with the ANSF in the Arghandab River Valley every day during their year-long deployment."
Shraga said the Iron Knights Soldiers' experience will be invaluable in helping to prepare the paratroopers of the 82nd Abn. Div., as they prepare to deploy to Afghanistan.
The deployed Iron Knights Soldiers served as ANSF role players during eight days of situational training exercises and five days of force-on-force operational exercises.
Wearing Desert Combat Uniforms and a full complement of Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System receivers, known as MILES gear, Iron Knight Soldiers participated in several exercises, ranging from Combat Outpost Defense, Cordon and Search, ANSF Integration, Improvised Explosive Device Defeat and a Combat Convoy lane.
During the three weeks of training in the field, "All-American" paratroopers of 1st BCT, 82nd Abn. Div., practiced partnering with the ANSF role-players, navigating through various scenarios they could potentially face while working with their Afghan counterparts.
"This is an important mission," said Spc. Nicholas Hei, an infantryman assigned to Company B, 1st Bn., 66th Armor Regt, 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div. "Our guys are helping the Soldiers from Fort Bragg to prepare for a dangerous environment; and the lessons they take away from mistakes (at the training center), will help save Soldiers' lives (during deployment)."
In addition to acting in a role-playing capacity, the Iron Knights took advantage of the training resources available at JRTC to hone their own war fighting skills.
Raider Brigade Soldiers attended the latest training available for biometrics system, also known as Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment. In addition to HIIDES training, the Soldiers also attended Air to Ground Integration training, learning to synchronize aviation operations to support ground forces, and a class on how to operate a detention facility.
Once the detachment of Iron Knight Soldiers return to Fort Carson, they will bring the training they received at JRTC to prepare their units for future missions.-30-