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Guardsmen venture to high desert: National Training Center tests Soldiers' mettle 
By Army National Guard Spc. Zach Sheely, 104th Public Affairs Detachment 

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (9/11/12) -- Nearly 300 Soldiers from the Colorado Army National Guard deployed to the National Training Center located on Fort Irwin, Calif., to conduct their annual training July 29-Aug. 18.

The NTC is considered to be a premier training event center and designed to push Soldiers' limits.

"This isn't your typical annual training," said Lt. Col. Craig Jones, 147th Brigade Support Battalion commander. "Being 'in the box' at NTC provides us … the most realistic training environment we can get -- other than actually deploying to a combat theater of operations."

The 147th was joined by the 220th Military Police Company and consolidated with the Michigan Army National Guard's 1460th and 1463rd Transportation Companies, the Army Reserve's 233rd Quartermaster Company from Pennsylvania, and the 32nd Transportation Company from Fort Carson, Colo., to form a Combat Service Support Battalion.

Approximately 9,000 Soldiers in all, from units all over the country, including 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, out of Fort Bliss, Texas, participated in the massive-scale exercise.

The NTC provides a vast expanse of land located in southeastern California. Couple that with a low population density and it's the perfect place for a giant training event center meant to simulate the rough terrain of Afghanistan.

The mission of the CSSB was to provide supplies such as food, water and bulk diesel fuel, to forward elements at the operating bases spread out across the training site.

This task was often hampered by mock opposing forces attacking the convoys along the way via notional small arms fire and improvised explosive devices.

"The Soldiers were able to experience different aspects of field training and combat operations," said Capt. Herb Guerrero, Company B commander, 147th BSB. "It was a great learning opportunity and enhanced their skill set."

Members of the 220th MP Company were on hand to provide convoy security and base security at Forward Operating Base Santa Fe.

The Soldiers endured oppressive heat, 24-hour operations and constant attacks from the opposing forces.

"The climate and terrain is very similar to … Afghanistan," said Master Sgt. Britton Fell, senior operations noncommissioned officer, 220th MP Company.

"This was the most realistic training I've seen since enlisting in '92," said Staff Sgt. Devin Newth, water purification section sergeant with Company A, 147th BSB. "It helped our Soldiers really grasp what they may be up against in theater."