DUMNICE, Kosovo— The success and failure of many Army organizations can rest on the strength of their foundation.
For the infantrymen assigned to the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the foundation of the unit’s success lays within the individual Soldier, squad and platoon size operations.
With this in mind, the Soldiers and leaders currently deployed to Kosovo with the 1-41 Inf. Regt., came together for a squad-level situational training exercise (STX) in Dumnice, Kosovo, July 25, 2016.
The training focused on smaller squad level movements in preparation for a large scale, multi-echelon exercise held in Kosovo later this year. Deemed Operation Iron Eagle 2, the exercise tested each Soldier’s ability to react to contact, react to a squad attack and react to a squad ambush.
“This is really just the crawl phase,” said 2nd Lt. Kyle Roughton, platoon leader, 3rd platoon, Alpha Company, 1-41 Inf. Regt. “We’re working on basics, ensuring readiness so we have Soldiers that are better trained and able to assist their new teams and squads and make them more proficient.”
Operating in the mountainous terrain of Kosovo, as members of the Multinational Battle Group-East, the infantrymen capitalized on the opportunity to develop their junior Soldiers and NCOs.
“[This training] is important because it makes the Soldiers better at their jobs. It lets the team leaders develop, become better NCOs,” said Roughton. “It lets squad leaders develop and get more comfortable controlling their squad, and it provides an opportunity for our younger Soldiers to see what right looks like, and then for some of them move up to the team leader position and get some time there before they take their team for the first time.”
Sgt. Jeremy Roach, a team leader with 1-41Inf. Regt., was one of the junior NCOs to benefit from the training.
“The exercise really gave me a chance to exercise control and practice directing my team,” said Roach. “We have some guys who are really experienced and have done a lot of this stuff but then there’s some guys that this is their first time doing it, so it’s good for them to see it and for me to do it in real speed.”
Roughton said the training offered team leaders like Roach, an opportunity to adjust their tactics, techniques and procedures while also identifying weaknesses.
“Overall it’s their first time and they’re a young squad, so they had some hiccups and certainly have some things they are going to go back and improve on, but overall it provided these junior NCOs a really good picture of what they need to improve on,” Roughton added. “It’s like the old saying, ‘practice makes perfect.’ If they figure out these hiccups now and work through them it’s going to allow them to perform at their peak level when its real time and people’s lives are on the line.”
Roach said he plans to take his team back to the drawing board and utilize terrain models and rock drills to help his Soldiers develop.
Regardless of how they get the job done, Roach and Roughton agreed the exercise was a success and plan to continue to train on the fundamentals in an effort to strengthen the unit’s foundation and provide critical building blocks for the peace support mission in Kosovo.