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Minnesota National Guard
Large-scale exercises test 1/34th ABCT

XCTC CAMP RIPLEY, Minn - In a simultaneous fashion while rolling up to the firing line, Soldiers man the crew-served and main gun weapon systems onboard their M1A1 Abrams tanks and identify targets at Camp Ripley Training Center on June 16, 2015 - the first drill of its kind for some Soldiers of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division

"While my gunner is firing on a target, my tank commander is engaging a truck using his 50 cal, and I see rounds flying from our wingman who's engaging a tank way out there," said Spc Ted Coy, an Abrams driver with 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry Regiment "Seeing all the tracer rounds cross while our platoon is firing at different targets at the same time is one of the coolest things I've ever seen"

The gunnery and maneuver exercise that Coy and his platoon conducted was one of the many integrated training events the 1st ABCT has been conducting during its Exportable Combat Training Capabilities exercises - a training period spanning from May 2015 to August 2015

"Normally platoons are focused on just a gunnery or maneuver mindset," said Sgt Steven Wysocki, an Abrams gunner with 2-136th CAB "During XCTC, crewmembers are put to the test combining both aspects in a live-fire setting

"To see our last three years of training come together in the past couple days has been amazing," said Wysocki

The XCTC exercise, supported by Soldiers from the active duty's First Army, is being used as a tool to improve total force operations among the seven battalions that make up the 1st ABCT Providing observers and controllers, which oversee training and provide mentorship, First Army also directs an opposition force to throw another wrinkle into an already-complex training event

"Without the opposition force from the First Army, our Soldiers wouldn't have gotten the level of training they've been getting," said Lt. Col. Joe Sharkey, commander of the 134th Brigade Support Battalion "Our Soldiers need this experience of operating in a more realistic tactical environment"

To test their own mission-essential capabilities in a combat environment, Soldiers from the 134th BSB took part in a dramatic mass casualty event The battalion's medics were assessed on their ability to suppress an enemy attack while treating and transporting casualties

"They've done a tremendous job," said Sharkey "Seeing my battalion operating in the field makes me more assured that our Soldiers can get the job done"

As XCTC comes to an end in August, the clock starts ticking for the final preparation and adjustments to be made before the 1/34th ABCT sets out for a rotation at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, in 2016

To view all the photos from the training, visit the 1ABCT Picasa page at: https://picasaweb.google.com/101427943885956895139/EXportableCombatTrainingCapabilities?noredirect=1

June 29, 2015
by Spc William Boecker
1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs



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