FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2008
Capt. Chris Heathscott
State Public Affairs Officer
Arkansas National Guard
New Arkansas "Battlefield" prepares Illinois Guardsmen for Afghanistan ~ 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team conducts remobilization training at Fort Chaffee
by Sgt. Joshua Carroll
119th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
CHAFFEE MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ark. - Under cover of white smoke and a blast of heavy gunfire, a stack of Soldiers collapsed on a building suspected of housing enemy insurgents based on intelligence gained through the help of their interpreters. Moving through the building in a swift, methodical method, the Soldiers overcame the insurgents and quickly secured the scene.
While this may sound like events occurring overseas, this account actually describes a training exercise that is ongoing at the Fort Chaffee Maneuver Training Center.
Fort Chaffee, which is near Fort Smith, Arkansas, is hosting members of the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) of the Illinois Army National Guard while they are participating in a new training model called the Exportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC). The XCTC training model uses “theatre immersion” techniques that allow the Soldiers to train while becoming familiar with the sights and sounds they will encounter on the battlefield.
While the XCTC training model has been used in the past, this is the first time that it has been used to train an entire brigade – approximately 3,000 Soldiers.
“This is a test bed for National Guard Bureau,” said Col. Louis J. Landreth, commander of the Arkansas training site. “They really like Fort Chaffee because of the location and the maneuver space that we have. We’ve received a lot of compliments on how flexible we are on hosting this event and working with these guys and making everything be a success for them.”
During the course of this training, which will be ongoing over the next month, the Soldiers of the 33rd IBCT are using realistic Forward Operating Bases and encountering middle-eastern villages, simulated Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) and other battlefield effects.
The Soldiers are also learning how to approach enemy insurgents and respectfully interact with friendly non-combatants. These role-players are primarily comprised of civilian contractors from the area surrounding Fort Chaffee who, while participating in the exercise, wear middle-eastern clothing and speak in limited Arabic.
“This will give us a good base to work off of, and when we get to our mobilization station we will start all of these exercises again, but in the live fire mode,” said the commander of the 33rd IBCT, Col. Scott Thoele.
Soldiers of the 33rd IBCT only recently started their training, but it’s already easy for them to see how they will be able to put it to use overseas.
"This is stuff that should be common knowledge while on a presence patrol anywhere within the sandbox,” said Sgt. Jonas Venable, an instructor with the 651st Pre-Mobilization Training Assistance Element of the Illinois Army National Guard. “This is very valuable."
See photo at right
full cutline -
An Illinois Guardsman returns fire during a training exercise at Fort Chaffee's new 'urban battlefield,' the XCTC. “This is a test bed for National Guard Bureau,” said Col. Louis J. Landreth, commander of the Arkansas training site. “They really like Fort Chaffee because of the location and the maneuver space that we have. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Chris A. Durney, Arkansas National Guard State Public Affairs Office)
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