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HomeNews101st Airborne Division Strike Force Supports XCTC at Fort McCoy

101st Airborne Division Strike Force Supports XCTC at Fort McCoy

Written by Lt. Riley Foster
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs

2nd Brigade Combat Team - StrikeFort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne Division

Fort McCoy, WI – In the heat of June, Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) prepare to rotate out to training sites as the opposition force to the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Illinois National Guard. If that weren’t enough, the Battalion will move directly from playing OPFOR to conducting squad live fires and crew gunnery to prepare for follow on training back home at Fort Campbell.

The Strike Force Battalion deployed to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, early in the month to support the eXportable Combat Training Capability, or XCTC.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. David Souliotis, platoon leader, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) center, briefs Capt. Nathan Goldsmith, commander, Company C, 2-502, during 2-502 IN's deployment to the Exportable Combat Training Capability at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, Jun. 16, 2017. (1st Lt. Riley Foster)
U.S. Army 1st Lt. David Souliotis, platoon leader, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) center, briefs Capt. Nathan Goldsmith, commander, Company C, 2-502, during 2-502 IN’s deployment to the Exportable Combat Training Capability at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, Jun. 16, 2017. (1st Lt. Riley Foster)

2-502’s role in this training event is to provide opposition forces to hone the 33rd IBCT Soldiers’ warfighting capability. While primarily focused on preparing the Soldiers of the National Guard for their future rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Lousiana, the training event poses unique opportunities for 2-502 to train in an unfamiliar training area with the focus on squad level tactics.

Lt. Col Adam Sawyer, the Battalion Commander of 2-502, has emphasized the importance of supporting the 33rd IBCT and helping them to improve.

“Our primary focus for being here is to help train the 33rd IBCT and ensure they leave XCTC with an improved readiness training level.” said Sawyer.

2-502 supports an average of 35 situational training exercises lanes with approximately 325 Soldiers each day. Strike Force Soldiers further facilitate the training of the 33rd IBCT by participating in after action reviews and providing an opposition force perspective.

2BCT recognized the training opportunity and requested to bring the entirety of the Battalion instead of meeting the minimum XCTC requirement. Once approved, it allowed the Battalion to plan its own training in addition to supporting the 33rd IBCT.

“Everyone is getting the most out of this event.” said Sawyer. “Our forward support company gets training just by conducting sustainment operations and tactical LOGPACs. Our forward observers are working with the 33rd to get call for fire training in support of the IBCT’s live fires.”

Capt. Travis Johnson, the commander of Company B, 2-502, has followed suit in taking advantage of the unique training available through XCTC.

“This has been an invaluable training experience.” said Johnson. “Getting to complete live fires on unfamiliar terrain teaches some valuable lessons we can carry forward to JRTC.”

The push to maximize training while supporting the 33rd IBCT’s journey to JRTC has resulted in a very cost-effective and mutually beneficial training event.

Following their XCTC rotation, 2-502 will move on to platoon level live fires in July at Fort Campbell, and a rotation at JRTC in early 2018. Training events like this one prepare the maneuver Companies as well as the smaller specialty platoons for their role in a much larger operation. Sgt. David Hoehler, 2-502’s medical evacuation NCO, is impressed with capabilities XCTC provided for the Battalion’s medics.

“You’ve got the medics teaching recon Soldiers first responder skills in return for experience in patrolling out on the lanes.” said Hoehler. “You just don’t get an opportunity to do that without obstacle at other training events.”

XCTC has provided both 2-502 and the 33rd IBCT with unique opportunities to build teams and prepare for the next challenge to their respective units. With both units planning to take on JRTC in the coming months, Soldiers at every level are leaning in to the grindstone.

“This deployment to XCTC has resulted in a great training relationship with our partners in the National Guard.” said Sawyer. “While also allowing us to build our team and prepare for Platoon and Company level training in the coming months.”

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