Lightning Strikes at NTC
At the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California, Soldiers of the "First Lightning" battalion rehearse their training, in preparation for success in any future
Effectiveness in the United States Army is measured by the ability to shoot, move and communicate. More specifically effectiveness as a field artillery battalion is measured by the ability to meet the five requirements for accurate predicted fire. These are, in order: accurate target location and size, accurate firing unit location, accurate weapon and ammunition information, accurate meteorological information, and accurate computational procedures. There is no better place to demonstrate and test these abilities than the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California. NTC is the last test for many units postured for deployments around the world. NTC's Observer Controllers are professionals and very good at what they do. They're trained experts and can find strengths and weaknesses within a unit's Tactical Standard Operating Procedures (TACSOP). They standby and observe the way units operate and make suggestion for improvement.
The "Dagger" brigade and "First Lightning" battalion utilized many resources and training events in preparation for NTC.
"Home station training of Platoon (and) Battery Situational Training Exercises (STX) and Combined Arms Live Fire Exercises (CALFEX) were very beneficial but cannot prepare you for the vast terrain difference [at NTC] and its effect on communication and wear and tear on vehicles. The 'force-on-force' training allowed our units to see just how well we can shoot, move, and communicate. We started off slow initially with our survivability moves and in reacting to indirect fire, but as the training days continued we got more precise and faster in both areas of operations." – 1SG Richardson, Bravo Battery.
"Training leading up to NTC provided us with all of the tools necessary to be successful. We rehearsed many drills in preparation for the rotation; without rehearsals our success would not be possible." "The many challenges faced throughout the rotation essentially forced us to plan for alternate actions. Our battery adapted well with all the changes; a true indication of our overall flexibility with any mission." – 1SG Bamba, Alpha Battery.
The experience and training at NTC will be used to refine the "First Lightning Battalion's" tactics, techniques and procedures. The refined TACSOP will set the conditions for success in any future missions.
"Heroes of the Desert"
Exceptional soldiers from NTC
HHB – PFC Driggers, Hunter, 68W. Served in a position two levels above his rank as the EVAC NCO. Single handily maintained effective communications for the medical platoon; which lead to the platoon's ability to respond in a fashion that exceeded the standard.
HHB – SPC Borkgren, Terry, 13D. Served as the night shift Command Post of the Future (CPOF) Operator, SPC Borkgren proved to be the subject matter expert on a number of systems within the battalion Tactical Operations Center (TOC). Besides constantly training seniors and peers on CPOF operations, he is an expert in the set-up of the Drash tent (the foundation of the TOC).
Alpha – PV2 Clark, Justin, 13B 1/A 1st section. PV2 Clark served as a FAASV Track Commander and trained up with 1st section to be a number 1 man. He fired over 80 rounds in four days. During this time he received very little sleep. He did not let fatigue get in the way of preforming his duties. He constantly tries to better himself by going over crew drills in between fire missions. He has also been training as a Gunner while in NTC try to move up in position.
Alpha – CPL Wood, Gary, 13B. CPL Wood served as Battery Communications NCO and Ammunition Team Chief. He meticulously maintained his DA4513 (Record of Missions Fired) ensuring that every shell and fuse was accounted for. In addition, he provided the Unit with extensive COMMO knowledge despite having no additional MOS training.
Bravo – SGT Thomas, Lucas, 13D, 1/B FDCNCO. SGT Thomas developed a plan to utilize existing platoon equipment and vehicles to transform a high-back HMMWV into a non-standard FDC. His efforts led to 1/B/1-7 FA successfully firing over 150 rounds in support of maneuver without incident while maintaining consistent and reliable digital communications with the gun-line.
Bravo – SPC Ragsdale, Adam. SPC Ragsdale is a leader amongst his peers. Throughout the 17 days, he led the ammunition teams. He controlled the ammunition resupply and coordinated their movements. His positive attitude had an effect on the whole platoon.
Golf/299th BSB – PV2 Otis, Gregory, 88M, Ammo Section, Distro Platoon. PV2 Otis was literally on the move: drawing, transporting and distributing over 3,000 rounds of various types of 155mm ammunition to 1-7 FA's Firing Batteries. He was instrumental in maintaining ammunition accountability when fatigue set in on all the members of Golf's Distribution Platoon. Because of his efforts, both of the battalion's Firing Batteries successfully executed Calibration and STX Lanes over 8 days without any significant ammunition issues or shortages.
Golf/299th BSB – SPC Bullock, Jeremey, 91B. SPC Bullock was heavily involved in repairing Golf's FSC 6K Forklift when its need was most critical for ammunition distribution operations. SPC Bullock's dedication and tireless efforts to keep 1-7 FA's wheeled vehicle fleet fully mission capable have been instrumental to our unit's success.