By Spc. Karen Sampson, 177th Armored Brigade, First Army Division East Public AffairsMarch 29, 2013
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. (Army News Service, March 29, 2013) -- Florida National Guard Soldiers are in the final training phase of the unit's mobilization. In a matter of weeks, they will deploy to Qatar to conduct security operations missions there.
The unit recently participated in a culminating training exercise designed by trainer/mentor personnel assigned to the 177th Armored Brigade, First Army Division East.
Capt. Justin B. Baxter, company commander for Security Force Alpha, 3rd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery, said he's confident his Soldiers are ready to provide security force support in the area. Assessments from trainer/mentor personnel support his conclusion.
"Overall, the unit did outstanding in their battle tracking and execution of drills," said Sgt. 1st Class Anthony T. Coleman, a trainer/mentor.
"The medics and other personnel were very on-point in the casualty evacuation exercises," Coleman said. "Their awareness of the regulations and willingness to train for standard and not for time, was very impressive."
The 3rd Bn., 116th FA accomplished pre-mobilization training through monthly drills, as well as completing an additional 60 days of training in one year to prepare the battalion for their deployment. The battalion's Soldiers were successful at accomplishing the requirements before they arrived at Camp Shelby for post-mobilization training.
"The biggest challenge we faced was preparing for deployment in a short time frame," said Sgt. Thomas F. Lloyd III. "We started our pre-mobilization training early in 2012."
"We had a very short turn-around between training on the new weapon system to pre-mobilization," said Lloyd, who works in the operations section.
Prior to pre-mobilization training, the 3rd Bn., 116th FA accomplished weapons conversion training. As part of the time-consuming process, the battalion transitioned from a M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System to the new M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System is a medium tactical vehicle equipped to launch as many as six rockets.
Baxter said the training has been successful and attributes that success to the members of the battalion.
"I am fortunate as a commander to have Soldiers with the battalion who have been on multiple deployments," Baxter said. "Some I deployed to Iraq with in 2005, so I know them personally as well as professionally."
Baxter sees the training experience as a great benchmark for junior enlisted Soldiers embarking on their first deployment.
"There are a lot of other hardships with a deployment than just the combat environment alone," Baxter said. "This by far is a great introduction to what it is like to be deployed."