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Ghosts ready to fight

1-2 SBCT’s exercise sends a message

Soldiers with Crusader Battery, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment load a 155 mm shell into a M777 howitzer during 1st Brigade, 2nd Stryker Brigade’s training at the Yakima Training Center during Exercise Ghost Lorraine. Photo credit: JM Simpson

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If the end state of armed conflict is winning, it is best to be unfair about it.

"Our brigade has got to be ready to go to war and fight to win - this is what we train for," commented Col. Kwenton Kuhlman, commander, 1st Brigade, 2nd Stryker Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, during Exercise Ghost Lorraine.

"We are ready to deploy, and our objective is to be unfair in the fight, to create a dilemma for our enemy."

Conducted at the Yakima Training Center throughout October, the Ghost Brigade's intent was to qualify crews through intense collective training up to the company level to strengthen readiness and lethality across the brigade in preparation for its rotation to Korea.

"The training has been very good; we are well prepared," added Kuhlman.

In light of current global conflicts, the Army's expeditionary mindset and its ability to "fight tonight" across a range of military operations has been on display during the exercise.

Training focused not only on land operations, but also on 1-2 SBCT's forced early entry operations by airlift to extend its communications net or with landing craft in executing beach assaults in preparation for follow-on forces.

"Early entry is how we get to the fight," explained Kuhlman, "and echelon of fires is how we fight."

On a recent Saturday afternoon at YTC, the execution of a schedule of fires from the highest to the lowest caliber weapon was on full display - communication on all levels was crucial.

Several Apache attack helicopters assigned to the 4 - 6 Heavy Attack Reconnaissance Squadron, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, skimmed across a training range and engaged numerous targets. While doing so, they communicated to ground forces the condition of the objective as a maneuver force of Strykers carrying soldiers assigned to the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment  closed in.

"The Apaches have reported a ‘call for fire,'" explained Maj. Alexander Santiago, 1-14's operations officer. "The big guns down range will now engage the objective, and the helicopters will continue their reconnaissance."

Miles away, Crusader Battery of 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment received the message and readied a M777 Howitzer.

"We're in support of B Troop, 1-14 Cavalry," said Captain Josh Boylan, the battery commander, as soldiers loaded a 155 mm round into the big gun's chamber. "This training is very realistic; here we are applying danger close munitions in a very dynamic environment."

Moments later the gun fired on the objective 6,000 meters away. Not long after, 1-14th Cavalry soldiers continued to move toward the objective while several Apaches kept watch from on high.

"There is a communications network here that is vital to our success," added Santiago.

As the ground force continued to move forward, so too did Stryker mounted 120mm mortars. If needed they would engage the objective before the dismounted troopers arrived to finish off any remaining enemy combatants.

"I'm very pleased with our training," concluded Kuhlman. "Our goal is not to fight a fair fight, and we want our enemy to know this."

1-2 SBCT will soon travel to the National Training Center for more training.

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