Fort McCoy News July 26, 2013

32nd IBCT trains for tactical excellence

BY STAFF SGT. MEGAN BURNHAM & PFC. CHRISTOPHER ENDERLE
112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FORT MCCOY, Wis. — For the first time since deploying in 2009, the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) conducted an extensive series of training exercises at Fort McCoy, Wis., in July to become certified in combat operations.

Approximately 2,500 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers participated in the three-week exercise known as eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC). The XCTC tested and validated Soldiers' proficiency in their job positions and skills.

Photo for 32nd article
Pfc. David Monroe of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment watches as he fires the first Javelin missile fired by the unit in more than 10 years during a July training exercise at Fort McCoy. Photo by Sgt. Oscar Gollaz

The realistic training provided a golden opportunity for junior leaders to understand their individual roles as well as the combat mission of an infantry brigade, said Col. Tim Lawson, 32nd IBCT commander.

"I really want them to take away some of those critical foundations as junior leaders that will last them a long time," said Lawson.

Due to recent National Guard mobilization for disaster-relief efforts and deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, there hasn't been an opportunity to carry out a training exercise of this degree for many years, he said.

The brigade trained for a variety of different warfighting scenarios including close-quarters response fire, platoon attack and defense training, urban combat operations and mortar, artillery, and missile fire.

Soldiers from the brigade's two infantry battalions fired their TOW (tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided) missile systems for the first time in more than a decade.

"We are infantry," said Sgt. Kevin Hoff, of 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment. "This is our job; this is who we are, and we love it."

The exercise provided a rare opportunity for the brigade to train at the platoon and company levels as part of a larger team effort in a full-scale operation.

"I'm looking forward to it," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Lauerman of 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry, as he stood in his foxhole. "It's going back to some of the roots that the infantry has and something that we haven't done for a long time."

In addition to the challenges of the exercises themselves, the brigade endured changing weather conditions, from high temperatures and humidity to heavy thunderstorms and rain.

"It's been hot. It's been humid, but we'll push on," said Sgt. Ben Mutterer of 1st Battalion, 120th Field Artillery.

The exercise serves as a culminating event for units to validate their operational readiness for combat. Traditionally, units participate in the exercise as a way to demonstrate their unit's ability to perform in a deployed environment, which typically occurs once every five years.

The three-week exercise concludes at the end of July.