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Snow, sub-zero temperatures don't slow Golden Dragons, live-fire exercise

January 26, 2012

By Spc. Jacob R. Mahaffey, 2nd Brigade Combat Team Journalist

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, and 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT, conducted a live-fire exercise Friday on Fort Drum.

The Soldiers from the Golden Dragon battalion have been in the field since Jan. 16, two days after more than a foot of snow fell and sub-zero temperatures followed.

Soldiers from E Company, 210th BSB provided fuel and hot chow to the Golden Dragons.

"This is the first time in a year 2-14 Infantry has combined mount-ed and dismounted elements into a single (live-fire exercise)," said Lt. Col. Sean Bernabe, 2-14 Infantry commander. "This training is a culmination of all of the Gold-en Dragons' hard work over the last year."

Each platoon's mission is to enter a village and capture a suspected enemy combatant. Using a mounted approach, the platoon must reach the village and assess any threats along the way.

Once close enough to the village, Soldiers must dismount and get inside to capture their target.

To increase the level of realism for the training, role players and opposing forces are used.

"This training is set up to feel as realistic as possible to Afghanistan for the Soldiers," Bernabe said. "Each platoon will complete four iterations; a daytime blank run, daytime live run, nighttime blank run and a nighttime live run."

After each iteration, the platoon performs an after action review to discuss how the training went. During this time, senior leaders who observed the training give guidance and advice to the Soldiers.

"The Soldiers are training hard out here in the elements," Bernabe said. "Each iteration has gotten better and been smoother than the last, and that is our ultimate goal."

The Golden Dragons were more than prepared for the extreme cold weather that Fort Drum has to offer, according to Bernabe.

"We are the 10th Mountain Division; our Army expects us to be able to perform in all conditions," he said. "Our Soldiers get a chance to train in conditions and environments that Soldiers in other locations may never get to."

To prepare for the harsh conditions, Soldiers participated in training on the proper use and wear of all the cold weather gear they are issued. The training taught Soldiers how to receive maximum benefits from their Extended Cold Weather Clothing System.

"The cold and snow does not slow us down; this is our backyard," said 1st Sgt. Bobby Hanvy, first sergeant of B Company, 2-14 Infantry. "Our leaders keep a close watch on our Soldiers, keeping the level of exposure as low as possible from the cold."

The LFX is not the only training the Golden Dragons are doing on this field exercise. They also are completing short range marksmanship drills and Military Operations on Urban Terrain drills.
"We have completed team-, squad- and live-fire exercises," said Pvt. David Duritsch, a rifleman from B Company, 2-14 Infantry. "We are using real-life scenarios from Afghanistan and preparing for every possible detail."

Duritsch said the cold weather did not deter his platoon from training hard.

"Although sometimes the extreme cold can bring the morale down a little bit, we dress as warm as we can," he said.

The Golden Dragons will be out in the elements for another three weeks, giving every platoon in the company ample time to get maximum training for their Soldiers.

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