FORT KNOX, Ky. – During the course of two weeks, from Oct. 28 to Nov. 8, Soldiers with the 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division conducted platoon live-fire exercises at the Fort Knox range complex.
“(The event was) a scenario-driven, multi-echelon training event, which developed and trained the platoons on critical tasks which they will encounter in a counter-insurgency environment,” said Lt. Col. Michael Zernickow, squadron commander.
During the event, Soldiers and leaders executed and were evaluated on troop leading procedures, tactical movement, reacting to an improvised explosive device, conducting a key leader engagement and recovering a vehicle. The platoons also executed a day and night raid and defended a combat outpost from attack using indirect fire.
“The most challenging part of the live-fire exercise was definitely the raid on Wilcox Range,” said Capt. Jonathan Kennedy, Troop A commander. “It was the first time that we had maneuvered elements larger than a squad, and controlling two elements that were in motion while firing live ammunition was a good training opportunity for all of us.”
The troops also employed additional assets, including engineers, a human collection team, 60mm and 120mm mortars, and role players dressed up as Afghan National Army Soldiers. Each platoon’s iteration was roughly 20 hours of non-stop activity designed to simulate continuous combat operations found in a counter-insurgency environment.
“The condensed timeline and amount of tasks trained in a short period of time was the most challenging, but it also provided the greatest return on our investment,” said Capt. Michael Hefti, Troop B commander.
For Troop C, the most challenging portion of the live-fire exercise was the integration of the mounted assets and their maneuver, according to Capt.
Chad Chenoweth, Troop C commander.
“We were not allocated the gun trucks or the heavy weapons that accompany them,” Chenoweth said. “Our train up on these systems was a lot less extensive than the other troops based on our dismounted background and training focus. I believe the (noncommissioned officers) and Soldiers of Troop C did an outstanding job incorporating them into the plan and maneuvering under fire to bring the dismounts on to the objective. Their expertise in dismounted maneuver led to a seamless transition into mounted operations, as many of the same techniques apply.”
During the last week of October and into November, the Soldiers negotiated numerous live-fire exercises, making this the culminating event that allowed each troop to bring each of its squads together in a life-like combat environment.
It also incorporated numerous tactical tasks and served as a forcing function to train and correct a facet of basic tasks prior to the mission rehearsal exercise.
Additionally, it served as the largest multi-echelon training event conducted prior to a possible rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.
“Personally, I believe the troop is well beyond where I pictured us being at the beginning of this train up, given the schedule and minimal chances for the Soldiers to work together as teams and platoons,” Chenoweth said. “In between the squad and platoon live-fire exercises, the NCOs and officers showed us that they would take every bit of space they could find on the calendar and at static ranges to hit the wood line and ensure their men were prepared for the platoon live-fire exercise culminating training event.”
By 1st Lt. Ben Sasaki
3rd IBCT Public Affairs
1st Lt. Ben Sasaki 3RD IBCT
Staff Sgt. Jaime Betencourt, scout, 6th Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt., emplaces a claymore during the squadron’s live-fire exercise Oct. 28 to Nov. 8 at Fort Knox, Ky.