FORT PICKETT, Va. (May 30, 2017)- There’s an old saying that the best defense is a good offense. However, as the Soldiers of 1st Platoon, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 113th Infantry Regiment, New Jersey National Guard, learned; sometimes defense is your only option.
The Soldiers of 1st Platoon were tested on their ability to repel an enemy attack from hasty fighting positions established the night before in the early hours of May 24th, 2017
“It’s easy to attack someone, but when you’re setting up your defense you can get hit in so many ways you’re not expecting. So, this really teaches you a lesson on how to prepare yourself for the next lesson or the next defense,” said Sgt. Daniel Beachum, a team leader with 1st Platoon. “Once the action started to happen I learned a lot.”
Real world training is the reason why 1st Platoon and more than 2,500 Soldiers from the 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are here.
The 50th IBCT is taking part in the eXportable Combat Training Capability. XCTC is a Brigade training exercise designed to validate platoon proficiency in coordination with First Army. XCTC’s battlefield immersion is intended to provide the Army National Guard a realistic training environment where Soldiers like Beachum learn the right way to react in combat.
“Once I saw that my squad leader started directing us in the right direction of contact and I saw what my platoon leader was doing it all came together. It was almost like one broad perspective,” he said. “I now know how to react in a certain situation.”
The use of role players, interpreters, villages with set dressings, moulage, which is stage quality makeup simulating wounds, and realistic explosive special effects, give Soldiers a real world feeling in order to prepare them for combat.
The goal of this training event is to expose Soldiers to situations they may not encounter in a standard training mission.
“We weren’t just fighting them (the enemy). We were fighting the elements,” said Beachum.
After a night of probing and trying to find a weakness in 1st Platoon’s defense, the opposing forces or OPFOR, took the fight to the group of tired Soldiers.
They knew that it was raining and we were cold, but they didn’t take it easy on us all night. Once we got to morning time and we thought the mission was almost over, they hit us hard, Beachum continued.
The platoon will get better with each mission. They will learn to shoot, move and communicate more efficiently, which is the goal of training.
“They did a great job in terms of providing us with great training and a good plan for the next time we have to provide defense,” said Beachum.
After the mission was completed, the Soldiers of first platoon gathered for an after-action review to discuss what went well, what needs to improve and what preparations they need to make ahead of time.
“With every exercise and each training environment we get better and better,” said Beachum.
Accompanying photos are available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/xctc2017/sets/72157682063740071