Six platoons of Armor lieutenants engaged in a force-on-force field training exercise last week at the Digital Multi-Purpose Range Complex on Harmony Church. The event was the capstone for the Soldiers in I Troop, 2nd Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment, 316th Cavalry Brigade, who are in the final few days of the Armor Basic Officer Leader Course.
“This is the culminating exercise of 17 weeks of training,” said Staff Sgt. Raymond Whitener, an instructor for 2nd Squadron, 16th Cav. Regt.
“The biggest thing the lieutenants learn in the course is command and control as part of a combat arms team and a company-sized element — the actual maneuvering of armored vehicles, their formations, their actions on contact,” he said. “So this is where they have to take what they’ve learned with the reconnaissance side and the tank side and the dismounted side, and they give a platoon-sized operation order and execute it — while maneuvering four 70-ton tanks maintaining command and control at the same time. This is where they put it in place.”
Wednesday’s exercise started at sunset with a scout platoon in four Strykers doing reconnaissance. After dark, the tanks engaged with simulated rounds.
The scenario-based FTX provided training for two common Cavalry missions — a flank security mission and move-to-contact mission, Whitener said.
Cadre and students conducted an after-action review following the exercise to determine what worked and what didn’t.
This class of ABOLC students is the first for I Troop since the brigade’s transition to Fort Benning. Each class includes four phases: foundations, gunnery, leadership and tactics. While the final phase focuses particularly on hands-on exercises, the lieutenants also hone their leadership skills.
“They learn priorities of work time management and tactical placement for advantageous battlefield environments,” Whitener said. “Typically, a third of our lieutenants deploy right after this course. This is their train-up for combat.”
The class will graduate Feb. 10.