‘Go for Broke’ troops immerse in weeks of Lava Forge battle

| June 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

Infantry combat field training shatters “weekend warrior” perception

Staff Sgt. Edwin Basa & Sgt. Daniel Mettert
305th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Army Reserve Soldiers of Echo Company, 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment receive instruction from an Observer/Controller (OC) of the 196th Infantry Brigade (Training Support Brigade) during exercise Lava Forge, at Kahuku Training Area, Hawaii. (Photo by Sgt. Daniel Mettert, 305th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

KAHUKU TRAINING AREA — Bravo and Echo companies of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, conducted simulated assault training, here, June 18 and 19.

Echo Co. conducted an attack as a cohesive unit in an effort to recapture a mock village. Its goal was to allow for the safe return of its residents, while minimizing damage to structures.

Meanwhile, a platoon from Delta Co. repelled Echo Co. as the opposition and occupying force. Participating troops spent weeks in the field to prepare for the two days of simulated battles.

According to Capt. Daniel Alvarez, an infantry battalion adviser from 1st Bn., 196th Inf. Brigade (Trng. Support Bde.), the exercise is part of the units’ annual training (in this case, the Army Reserve’s 100th Bn., and the Hawaii Army National Guard’s 29th Inf. Bde.), in which capabilities, both at the individual and multi-echelon unit level, are tested and improved upon.

Typically, this type of training is conducted once per year, when all outlying units from the 100th Bn., 442nd Inf. Regt., can come together and conduct more advanced and complex training that generally isn’t feasible during the year at the individual home stations.

The realistic training conducted during Lava Forge (also known as Papa Koa) brought “Go for Broke” Soldiers a perspective that could not be attained in a classroom.

“This was a different experience for me,” said Spc. Preston Blakely, Echo Co., 100th Bn., 442nd Inf. Regt. “I had done live-fire exercises in the past, but nothing to this extent with actual buildings and room clearing. This was more of a team exercise, rather than individual,” he said. “It gave me a lot more respect as a Soldier who hasn’t been deployed, yet – although obviously, it can’t be compared to actual combat.”

According to Capt. William Poole, assistant operations officer, 100th Bn., 442nd Inf. Regt., training at KTA is particularly valuable for off-island troops, such as Echo Co.

“For our off-island companies, (finding adequate) training land is always a real challenge in American Samoa, and even in Guam to some extent. Here at KTA, you have so much land, they can actually maneuver as company-sized elements, and company commanders get to put their platoons into action, which they don’t get to do back home,” said Poole.

Sgt. Christopher De la Cruz, noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC), Opposition Forces (OPFOR), Delta Co., 100th Bn., 442nd Inf. Regt., has participated in this training exercise several times. De la Cruz was responsible for preparing his troops to conduct opposition activities and repel Echo Co.

“It went really well. It was smooth,” said De la Cruz. “There were some issues with the equipment, but we went ahead and adapted and executed the mission,” he said.

According to De la Cruz the exercise helped him to become a better leader.

“It’s good to see your faults and what you’re good at, and see what you can improve on to perfect what you’re supposed to be doing,” he said.

The 196th Inf. Bde. (Trng. Spt. Bde.) ensured that both novice and experienced Soldiers gained valuable insight with regard to their strengths and weaknesses, and an understanding of how to improve.

In addition to advising and assisting partnered units in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard, advisers from the 196th Inf. Bde. (Trng. Spt. Bde.) also carried out duties as observer-coach/trainers for U.S. active duty units, as well as Multinational Partnered Units through the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Capability (JPMRC).

“Word is getting out on the effectiveness of Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Capability and the effectiveness of the exportable Combat Training Center (CTC) package that we have,” said Alvarez.

The 196th Inf. Bde.’s involvement as observer-coach/trainers and advisers during these (and other) exercises began in 1998; however, the unit’s long and storied combat experience has roots in the U.S. Army Reserve’s 98th Division, dating back to the World War II era.

The 196th Inf. Bde. assists Reserve and National Guard units in Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, American Samoa, Arizona and Saipan, as a training support brigade, providing support to Reserve component forces throughout the Pacific area.

The 196th Inf. Bde. has trained Soldiers who have deployed to support combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and the Southern Philippines. Its current involvement in exercises like Papa Koa, enable Reserve and National Guard units to tap into a wider wealth of knowledge and experience.

According to Alvarez, 196th Inf. Bde. advisers, as well as the JPMRC’s exportable CTC package, are capable of deploying to units across the globe to help assemble and conduct a training program similar to those at major training centers such as the National Training Center (NTC) in California, or Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) in Louisiana, saving units time and money while providing a valuable system to improve their readiness and capabilities.

“I really like helping these units improve their capabilities, tactics, techniques, procedures and standard operating procedures,” said Alvarez. “It’s rewarding when you start out working with them, and you assess whatever position or capability they’re at. … (You see) that transform as you continue advising and assisting them. The change and improvements that you see are a definite payoff.”

The weeks of planning, preparation and staging for Go for Broke troops in the field culminated in a sense of accomplishment and learning for these Soldiers.

“I would say that a lot of people think that annual training is kind of just a weekend warrior thing, where Soldiers take small classes and training, and not really doing things in the field,” said Blakey. “A lot of people don’t understand that the 100th Bn., and 442nd, and everyone else here participating and helping out, are actually in the field for weeks at a time – essentially 28 days of doing hands on actual infantry training.”

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Category: News, Training

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