La. Guard’s 256th Infantry participates in warfighter exercise

By Sgt. Noshoba Davis, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office

PINEVILLE, La. – The Louisiana National Guard’s 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team participated in a brigade Warfighter exercise at Fort Polk in Leesville, May 5-20.

The Warfighter exercise is a two-week command and control exercise to test and evaluate a headquarters reaction, and methods of battle relating to its management and execution abilities, through a virtual battlefield.

“What you are doing here is important and is your professional responsibility to pass it on,” said Gen. Robert Abrams, commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command. “It is better that we learn the hard lessons in training than elsewhere.”

Mission Command Training Program provided the simulated training environment, mentors, observers, trainers and coaches to portray a free-thinking, near-peer threat. The MCTP supports the collective training of Army units at worldwide locations to train leaders and provide commanders the opportunity to train on mission command in unified land operations.

“The Army as a whole is getting away from counter insurgency and moving to a near-peer threat and we haven’t seen training like this since before 9-11,” said Capt. Mitchell Champagne, Headquarters and Headquarters Company 256th IBCT commander. “This exercise has us flex our mental muscles and think about the battlefield in a new way.”

The 256th IBCT began combat operations to push the opposing force out of the country and assist the invaded nation secure its internationally recognized borders. Role players assisted the units with the processes of working with host nation and nongovernmental organizations during the exercise. The Warfighter exercise tested the 256th IBCT’s staff members’ reactions to events in combat and their abilities to execute mission command.

“We are able to effectively maneuver this brigade with less resources than we think,” said Lt. Col. William Rachal, commander of the 256th IBCT.

The exercise allowed the junior enlisted Soldiers to work with professionals in their job field and gain an understanding of how the brigade works on the battlefield. This allowed them to become more efficient and skilled in their set jobs, as well as learning the expectation the brigade has for them on the battlefield.

“As a lower enlisted, you don’t really see that bigger picture,” said Pfc. Tori Gibson, a signal systems support specialist with HHC, 256th IBCT. “I feel like I have a better understanding of things now that I get to see the bigger picture and do my job in a more real situation than normal.”

Next year the brigade will participate in an eXportable Combat Training Capability exercise at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, which is a field training exercise designed to certify platoon proficiency and used to check on the organizations progress over the last year.

Capt. Patrick Boiling described warfighter as a step in the process to developing an organization to an optimal level for XCTC.

“We need to be prepared to deploy tomorrow,” said Boiling, brigade chief of recon. “Warfighter prepares us for XCTC then JRTC, which is the final exercise before the unit is deployment ready.”

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