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Idaho National Guard completes XCTC, looks ahead

By Capt. Robert Taylor June 27, 2018

BOISE, Idaho -- The Idaho Army National Guard's 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team completed an eXportable Combat Training Capability rotation at the Orchard Combat Training Center June 1 to 24 in preparation for its National Training Center rotation in June 2019.

More than 3,000 Soldiers from at least five Army National Guard states, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Army Reserve and the British Army Reserve's 103rd Regiment Royal Artillery and Airmen from the Oregon Air National Guard's 123rd Weather Flight participated in the brigade's largest training exercise of the year.

"The exercise was an overwhelming success due to everyone's efforts," said Col. Scott Sheridan, commander of the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team. "During the high up-tempo, spirits remained high, motivation excelled and the professionalism that was on display was top notch."

XCTC brought full training resource packages to the OCTC, which allowed the brigade to train close to home on its own training schedule. The brigade's maneuver units completed a 15-day training rotation with the brigade's supporting elements rotating Soldiers to support the exercise throughout its duration.

Soldiers completed platoon- and company-level tasks in a field-training environment and were equipped with Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System equipment, coached and assessed by observer coach/trainers from the First Army Division West's 189th Combined Arms Training Brigade and conducted after-action reviews after each training lane to maintain training integrity and accountability. Soldiers from the Ohio National Guard's 145th Armored Regiment provided opposing forces to simulate a near-peer adversary during force-on-force training lanes.

Throughout the 24-day rotation, the brigade's maneuver units were augmented with members of the U.S. Army Reserve's 321st Engineer Battalion, which is headquartered in Boise. The battalion worked closely with the 116th Brigade Engineer Battalion to support the brigade's training objectives.

"Integrating with maneuver units gives company commanders that experience of assisting maneuver elements with mobility, counter mobility and survivability operations," said Capt. Paul Meehan, assistant operations officer for the 321st Engineer Battalion.

"This training gives them the chance to work with maneuver elements that don't have engineer assets and to build interoperability between components. When we get deployed, that's what we do."

The brigade will participate in a warfighter exercise in August and conduct a National Training Center rotation at Fort Irwin, California, in June 2019 to prepare for possible real-world missions the following year.

"I look forward to taking the experiences from XCTC into the warfighter and then next year into NTC and for whatever mission lies ahead," Sheridan said.

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