Ghost Brigade soldiers hone war-fighting-skills

By Staff Sgt. Samuel Northrup on November 22, 2017

Soldiers of 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team conducted Operation Argos, a training exercise held Oct. 27-Nov. 15, at Yakima Training Center, to build the brigade's war-fighting capabilities.

The purpose of the exercise was to prepare the units of 1-2 SBCT for their upcoming Bayonet Focus and National Training Center rotation at Fort Hunter Liggett and Fort Irwin, California, respectively. The training included company combined arms live-fire exercises involving obstacle breaching, clearing buildings and reacting to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) environment; a sustainer gunnery; and a joint capabilities integration exercise involving coordination among the intelligence, artillery and Air Force assets to target simulated enemy on the range.

"It is important for everyone to know what is going on on the battlefield," said Staff Sgt. Kiser Russell, a weapons squad leader with Company A, 2-3 Infantry, 1-2 SBCT. "Communicating with one another is essential to get the job done in a timely manner. When everyone is on the same page, it makes it easier for us to move pieces around the battlefield and accomplish the mission."

The CALFEX was a complex operation with a lot of moving parts, Russell added. Getting the coordination down between the different platoon leaders, the company commander, and the support by fire element is important, and this training was good practice for that.

During the CALFEX, the habitual relationships with the other units were solidified, according to Maj. Joe Mangan, the executive officer for 23rd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1-2 SBCT. There are platoons of engineers who will have a habitual relationship with the different infantry units. These platoon-size elements of engineers will go through the lanes with an infantry company to remove impediments to the mission such as mined wire obstacles.

"We use a specific jargon within the engineer field when we talk about things such as a Bangalore breach," said Mangan. "That is great internally, but now we need to ensure the maneuver elements understand that jargon so they can better synchronize their operations.

"We also learn to communicate effectively with those maneuver elements," he added. "This helps create that shared understanding among us. That is a critical piece of this exercise that we wouldn't get if we were out executing a platoon live-fire by ourselves without the infantry units."

It is essential for these units to get that foundation of skills down before moving onto the more complex environments that are at Bayonet Focus and NTC, Mangan said.

It is important to build that foundation, especially between those assets such as the CBRNE (Chemical Nuclear, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive) Reaction Team and engineer personnel, Russell said. When the unit has to work with those assets later on, they are already tracking how this unit operates and what is expected from each other.

"Ultimately, it boils down to when you are deployed, you are going to be part of a larger team and it is critical to get out there and integrate and train the way that you would fight," said Mangan.