- Posted August 25, 2014 by
Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment is training at the Orchard Combat Training Center, south of Boise, Idaho, this month, demonstrating its ability to conduct fiscally responsible, multi-component training as part of the Army’s Total Force Policy while simultaneously conducting gunnery tasks and supporting their division's concept for integrated training strategy.
"It's a multi-component operation," explained Command Sgt. Maj. Sean Mayo, a native of Bridgeport, Conn., and command sergeant major for 1-14 Cav, 3-2 Stryker Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. "Basically, you have the Idaho National Guard, the 191st Training Support Brigade, who is an active unit, and us; we're playing (the Opposing Force) for them."
The exercise—an eXportable Combat Training Capability operation—is overseen by the 191st Infantry Brigade, First Army Division West, also from JBLM; along with units from the Army National Guard, Reserves and active components, all working in unison toward a common goal—conduct realistic training while relearning the tenets of the Total Force Policy.
"This is a fight that we knew pretty well 10 years ago, but over several deployments we've gone away from that," said Boise native, Lt. Col. Brad Christopher, 116th Infantry Brigade's operations officer. "So we're reenergizing that thing that we knew and applying the new systems that are available to us. It continues what we've established over the last 10 years in Afghanistan and Iraq; it's an opportunity for us to combine forces and reengage the heavy fight, something that is not new but is relearning for both forces."
The Total Force Policy was initially implemented in the early 1970s during the twilight years of the Vietnam War. It establishes policy for the integration of the Army's active and reserve components as a Total Force, according to the Army's website. It fell into disuse during the first decade of the 21st century as counterinsurgency operations increased in Iraq and Afghanistan.
At the heart of the Total Force Policy is the simple premise that the Army will do its job with less, and that the Guard and Reserves will take a more direct role in national defense.
In keeping with the basis of the Total Force Policy, "Warhorse" battalion, 1-14 Cav., is doing more with less while at OCTC by conducting gunnery training in addition to its duties as OPFOR.
"(The gunnery training) is just as important as what else we're doing out here," said Lt. Col. Robert Halvorson, 1-14 Cav. commander. "7th ID is leading the way to put the precision in Stryker gunnery that's never existed. Working with the Maneuver Center of Excellence, 7th ID is working hard to make gunnery something it's never been in the Stryker community. As the first cavalry squadron taking part in that we've got a responsibility to do it right."
Halvorson went on to say that conducting operations this way is cost efficient, and that if you do it correctly "and maintain your own training objectives in support of your (Mission Essential Task List), you will actually get training out here that's only rivaled by (the National Training Center)."
Mayo adds that this is also the squadron's first opportunity to capitalize on the lessons they learned while at the NTC in January.
"We took a bunch of (After Action Report) comments and critiques—things we learned about ourselves at the National Training Center—we talked a lot about them, but we didn't have the opportunity to shake out the bugs," he said. "This provides us a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on the lessons learned and things we needed to work on coming out of NTC."
The cavalry's OPFOR counterparts, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry Brigade, agree that this year's XCTC operation provide their unit a tremendous opportunity as well.
Capt. Craig Isaacson, a Bloomington, Minn., native and company commander for Charlie Company, 2-136 Inf. said of the exercise, "I think what it has highlighted is…that we want to be here, we want to train hard, and that our Soldiers are paying attention, taking notes and trying to perfect their craft, so that when they get called up to support active duty, they can expect that we are those professionals that show up and can do the same things that they're doing."