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'Ironhorse' troops take on new equipment, mission in Kuwait

January 9, 2012

By Spc. Bailey Jester, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait (Jan. 9, 2012) -- When Operation Iraqi Freedom began in 2003, it was the first war where front-line troops were equipped largely by the Army Prepositioned Stock, or APS.

APS's mission is to reduce the initial amount of equipment transportation required to support a Continental U.S.-based unit, and to sustain Soldiers until traditional supply lines are established.

Across the globe there are five regional storage sites for U.S. troops: United States (1), Europe (2), Afloat (3), Pacific and Northeast Asia (4), and Southwest Asia (5).

The 1st Brigade Combat Team, "Ironhorse," 1st Cavalry Division is located in Southwest Asia falling under APS-5.

Now with Ironhorse's mission changing, the team requires new equipment to sustain themselves.

"We are serving as a Mobile Response Force, and that is part of the [Central Command area of operations]-security plan," said Lt. Col. Edmond Brown, commander of the 1st Battalion "Dragons," 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, explaining their new mission. "So we are going back to more of a traditional mission as a fires battalion that supports the brigade commander's intent for fires and for combat operations if that were to occur."

As a Mobile Response Force, or MRF, a critical element is always being ready.

"We have the capability. We have the capacity, but for us to be truly ready to do our mission for this region, we have to increase our readiness," Brown explained. "So, to get there, we have to train."

Training is at the top of the Dragons to-do list.

"We are going to be able to shoot a lot of artillery," Brown said. "There is a significant amount of class work that has to be done to ensure people pass tests and are certified academically to do militarily what their [military occupational specialty] job is."

Brown explained that they began the classroom training the day after they arrived from Iraq. With the majority of classroom training complete, the Dragon battalion is now moving on to crew-level drills.

"We are going to focus at the crew levels for the howitzer, the radar, for the metro section and for the fire directions center. We'll focus on the crew and then we'll continue to span that out to other collective groups: platoons, batteries, companies, and battalion," explained Brown.

The battalion plans on starting their training as early as Jan. 12. In order to train and complete their mission, they needed to get the essential equipment, resulting in Dragon Soldiers spending three to five days drawing their equipment.

"We drew a battalion's worth of equipment," Brown said.

A battalion's worth of equipment is around 80 wheeled vehicles and 40 to 50 tracked vehicles with associated trailers, tool kits, automation and communication equipment, weapons, parts and repair parts.

"The quality of the equipment is far and above the standard," said Col. Scott Efflandt, commander of the Ironhorse Brigade. "I'm excited to get back to our roots and begin training our wonderful Soldiers again."

With a fresh set of equipment and a busy training schedule, Dragon Soldiers seem excited about their new mission.

"The majority of the Soldiers are looking forward to improving their MOS skills. They are going back to what their job is," Brown said about the Soldiers' reaction to their future schedule.

The Soldiers aren't the only ones excited for their future.

"I am very excited about this," Brown concluded. "This is what they joined the Army to do."

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