Merrimack soldier completes training exercise in Louisiana

FORT POLK, La. – Members of a New York Army National Guard task force with the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team successfully completed the rigors of a force on force training exercise here Friday, July 29, and began heading home the first week of August.

Pfc. Torin Harthcock, of Merrimack, completed training as part of the Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 182nd Infantry Regiment, and has redeployed back home as the brigade task force completes the training exercise.

The troops, with more than 5,000 participants from more than 30 states, spent nearly the month of July at Fort Polk as part of the training rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center, known as JRTC. Their experience included deployment and staging at Fort Polk followed by more than 10 days of offensive and defensive missions in the post maneuver areas against a real opposing force.

The maneuver training is designed to challenge all of 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 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 Joint Readiness Training Center 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 soldiers fires a blank with their 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 MILES 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.

JRTC is one of the Army’s three combat training centers at which brigade-sized units can conduct realistic training against an opposing force. JRTC specializes in light infantry warfare and operations. It is considered by soldiers as the Super Bowl of Army training.

Submitted by New York State Division of Military
& Naval Affairs