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Mastering the fundamentals

By Spc. Travis Teate | 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) | Nov. 7, 2018

FORT PICKETT, Va. —

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 11th Transportation Battalion, 7th Trans. Brigade (Expeditionary) participated in a field training exercise, held at Fort Picket, Virginia, Oct. 22 through Nov. 3, 2018.

 

Units from Fort Story, Fort Eustis and Fort Lee, Virginia came together at Fort Pickett, for the field exercise that would lay the foundation for "soldiering" that would carry into future field training exercises.

 

"We have to master the fundamentals of being a Soldier,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Damien Boffardi, 11th Trans. Bn., commander, “Once we do that, we can move on to more complex training."

 

Last year, the field training exercise was held at Fort Story where the Soldiers learned and practiced Sea/Land Operations and Life Support Area Defense Training. This year, the exercise was focused on Forward Operating Base establishment and individual Soldier skills. Soldiers participated in day and night land navigation, a Leaders Reaction Course and base defense.

 

"I think a lot of it had to do with the time of year we did this exercise, last year was later in the year and the weather was a huge distraction from what we were really there to do,” said Sergeant Joseph Mcdermott, 331st Transportation Company, 2nd platoon squad leader. “You can’t control the weather, but you can plan the best time of year that maximizes training.”

 

To make the training more realistic, the exercise had opposing forces. These were composed of members from the different units who conducted random attacks to test the units Area Defense capabilities. This led to a natural rivalry between units.

 

“The base defense was really well organized and well equipped, and everybody was on board together,” said Spc. Adam Torres, 331st Trans. Co. watercraft operator. “The adrenaline of the opposing forces, forced us to be excited.”

 

Base Defense is a mission essential task listing that the battalion must be efficient in.

 

"It’s more than just base defense, everything we are doing in this [exercise] is to build confidence at the basic level, so that we can build on that confidence for bigger things in the next [exercise]," said Boffardi. "This time we staged fixed wing air loads, we conducted runs of sling loads and rail operations in preparation for the field training. Next Time I want to actually move the equipment, but before we can do that, we have to build the confidence."

 

Boffardi also mentioned that he wanted the next field training exercise to be in West Point because it is one of the only places the units can conduct air loads and sail too. West Point is also a new location for the soldiers, to keep them from training in the same place over and over.

 

“The hardest part of the [exercise] was digging the fox holes when we arrived,” said Torres. “The dirt was that hard-red clay and it took way longer to set up the perimeter than in Fort Story. I did like that all of our "Sergeants Time Training" that we have done on Thursdays, paralleled everything we had to do on this field training exercise."

 

The short term tactics of focusing on the fundamentals is part of the long term strategy of building a foundation of knowledge and confidence that can be built on for the next exercise.

 

According to Boffardi, the exercise was a huge success and that the soldiers of 11th Trans. Bn., are prepared for the next training in spring.

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