FORT POLK, LOUISIANA – Members of a task force with the New York Army National Guard’s 27th Infantry Brigade combat team headed home this week after successful completion of a force-on-force training exercise here.
The troops, with more than 5,000 participants from more than 30 states across the country, including 19 from local towns, spent nearly all of July at Fort Polk as part of the training rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center, or JRTC. Their experience included deployment and staging at the base followed by more than ten days of offensive and defensive missions in the post maneuver areas against a real opposing force.
The maneuver training is designed to challenge all the components of the maneuver brigade, including infantry, artillery and aviation operations, engineering and reconnaissance tasks, logistics and resupply, and medical support and personnel replacements.
The brigade task force included the entire New York Army National Guard brigade combat team, along with supporting elements that included additional infantry units from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. Aviation support for the task force included aircrews from Connecticut, Maryland and Utah.
The following area troops participated in the exercise:
- First Lieutenant Alix Shepard, of Rock City Falls, completed training as part of the Battery A, 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery.
- Sergeant Evan Calmes, of Ballston Spa, completed training as part of the Alpha Company (Distribution), 427th Brigade Support Battalion.
- Private 1st Class Christopher Northrop, of Ballston Spa, Specialist Corey Noviello, of Malta, Sergeant Adam Sisson, of Ballston Spa, and Captain Joseph Moeller, of Rock City Falls, completed training as part of the Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment.
- Staff Sergeant James Brann, of Ballston Spa, and Specialist Christopher Mensler, of Ballston Spa, completed training as part of the Echo Company (Forward Support Co., Infantry), 427th Brigade Support Battalion.
- Staff Sergeant William Jirak, of Ballston Spa, Sergeant 1st Class Frank Mccann, of Malta, Master Sergeant Charles Moore, of Rock City Falls, and Staff Sergeant Eric Pinnell, of Ballston Spa, completed training as part of the Joint Force HQ – New York Exercise Support Group.
- Sergeant Major Ronald Spanton, of Rock City Falls, and Specialist Daniel Vroman, of Ballston Spa, completed training as part of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment.
- Captain Patrick Halpin, of Malta, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Albert Thiem, of Ballston Spa, completed training as part of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
- Specialist Alexander Sheldon, of Ballston Spa, completed training as part of the Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry (Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition).
- Private 1st Class William Oates, of Ballston Spa, and Private 1st Class Joseph Vukas, of Ballston Spa, completed training as part of the Alpha Troop, 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry (Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition).
The JRTC allows Army units to conduct combat training in a realistic environment which features a well-trained opposing force, civilian role-players on the battlefield, high-tech systems that monitor the action, and observer-controllers to evaluate unit actions.
All of the exercise participants and opposing force troops wore the Army’s Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System gear for the exercise. The gear consists of a sensor-leaden harness worn by the soldier and a halo of sensors attached to the soldier’s helmet. In addition to sensors, every weapon system also includes a laser emitter.
When a soldier fires a blank with his or her weapon, the laser fires a beam. If a target sensor receives a hit, then the soldier is considered wounded or a vehicle disabled, requiring all of the combat response actions to provide first aid and evacuation.
The gear enables infantrymen to conduct realistic combat training against a real enemy opponent and forces combat medics and logistics personnel to hone their skills by treating simulated battlefield injuries or evacuating damaged vehicles.