Sgt. 1st Class Aleah M. Castrejon, 104th Public Affairs Detachment, Colorado Army National Guard —
CAMP GUERNSEY, Wyo. – Soldiers with Company A, 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, Colorado Army National Guard spent more than a week in Guernsey, Wyoming, Oct. 15-25, 2020, in preparation for a deployment.
While the company has been training over the past year, the training area in Wyoming gave the Soldiers a different advantage—terrain.
These Soldiers perform much of their training at Fort Carson, Colorado Springs, and have come to know the areas so well it makes them complacent, U.S. Army Capt. Brian S. Howard, commander, Company A, 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment said. Guernsey ensured the Soldiers ran over hills and learned to find and take cover, as sparse as it was. The training plan conformed to the area.
The troops will soon head to the Middle East in support of U.S. Central Command.
The culminating event during the training challenged the Soldiers’ mental and physical fortitude as they assaulted an objective using live ammunition.
“Our decisive point for this week is … squad live-fire attack lanes,” Howard said. “The pre-mobilization training is imperative to their success.”
Given a mission, the teams moved to an objective using live fire, simulated live fires and attacks in order to clear an objective, Howard said. The Soldiers performed collective and individual tasks for the mobilization with the focus on the teams learning how to maneuver together.
Throughout the week’s training, Soldiers qualified on individual weapon systems, completed Situational Training Exercise lanes that consisted of ambushes, and used blank and simulation ammunition in preparation for a culminating live fire event.
While the exercise was a great tool to develop the team leaders, Howard said the value of the experience for the company and platoon leaders, and how they learned to interact with their troops was equally as important.
“Strengthening leadership is really the underlying goal for the company command team,” Howard said.
U.S. Army Spc. Robert Elliott, infantryman, 1-157IN, said the training was a learning experience in getting to know his team.
“Some of the Soldiers on the team have worked together for years, but some of the other Soldiers just started working together,” Elliot said. “So we have been learning (about) each other, each other’s habits, quirks, and figuring things out.”
Integrated into this exercise, subject matter experts from the U.S. Army’s 4th Security Force Assistance Brigade at Fort Carson offered assistance to support the Soldiers with their infantry tactics.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kurt Taveras, senior operations adviser for team 2, 4th SFAB, said the SFAB provided advice and coached them with the infantry’s training plan.
With two advisers assigned to each squad, the SFAB provided consistent feedback, and the infantry Soldiers benefited, Taveras said.
“It made the National Guard squad team leaders and squad leaders more comfortable to come up to us and ask the questions they may not be comfortable asking in front of their Soldiers,” he said.
Howard said it was helpful to have the 4th SFAB advisers attached to each squad in order to catch and correct issues during the training to make them a better unit moving forward.
“The amount of expertise of the Soldiers of the 4th SFAB is outstanding,” Howard said. “I am picking each one of their brains and understanding things that I didn’t know or verifying things, as a command team.”
Elliott said, by mid-week, he felt his team had learned a lot in standard operating procedures and had improved significantly. “Each person has different experiences and we’re melting them together in a way that is most efficient and effective,” Elliott said.
The training taught his team how to shoot, move and communicate with each other, while showing the company leaders they are capable of doing so, he said.
“From their first iteration of the STX (situational training exercise) lane ambush to right now, the dry-fire, they are becoming hard-charging infantrymen,” Howard said.
U.S. Army Spc. Matthew Malloy, team leader, 1-157th IN, said the training served as the culminating event for all of the skills and training that the unit has been working on over the past year.
“You learn a ton, it’s definitely a great opportunity for all of us, and it’s really what you sign up to do,” Malloy said.
Malloy said keeping one team together can be tough as Soldiers change out roles often, but this training served to create the needed team integrity.
“They always were a cohesive force,” U.S Army Capt. Kyle Pernelli, team leader for team 4322, 4th SFAB, said. “They work incredibly well together.”
Being in the National Guard means the Soldiers are also civilians and members of local communities across Colorado, Howard said. These Soldiers are also members who serve on State Active Duty in order to help with various natural disasters including fires, floods and more.
“We are ready to go and we are ready to help our neighbors,” Howard said. “I think that shows the love we have in Colorado for each other, and I think it really shows the willingness and the duty every National Guard Soldier has in our formations.”
Soldiers bring unique aspects to their military positions through their civilian backgrounds and experience.
Elliot has been in the Army for six years and is currently working on his Master’s Degree in bioengineering, and some of the facets of his civilian life fall in line to help make him a better Soldier.
“I am constantly working – on the civilian side – on problem-solving, and thinking through problems, and finding an effective plan for them,” he said.
When he runs into problems in the military, including his current training, Elliot said he finds that applying an analytical mindset helps get the job done.
Similarly, Malloy has a background in fitness and strength conditioning, which allows him to continue teaching others and helping other troops reach their goals.
“They are streamlining the efficiency that they have through years of developing expertise and truly knowing their craft,” Pernelli said. “And we are starting to see that culminate in how each of these squads operate, and how the company as a whole, is starting to operate. We are extremely grateful for (the COARNG) welcoming us and allowing us to simultaneously conduct our missions and assist them with theirs.”