FORT IRWIN, CA — The Idaho National Guard is preparing to come home after finishing up their National Training Center rotation in Fort Irwin, CA, it's an endeavor that culminates four years of hard work.
The 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team featured several battalions stretching from Idaho to Montana to Oregon and Nevada: Plus they had the help of the Idaho Air National Guard who provided air support during missions with the A-10 Thunderbolt.
This is the final hurdle in preparation for deployment in the spring of 2020 and training in the desert environment at Fort Irwin produces combat readiness emphasizing a team environment in a very tough place to train.
"The soldiers responded exemplary, the training is very difficult, there is very little sleep and it’s hot," said Col. Scott Sheridan of the Idaho National Guard. "The better you do the harder it gets at so it's a success if you have the opposing force work harder which the 116th soldiers were able to do."
At the National Training Center soldiers prepare to mobilize while attending classes in the first week, the next two weeks are dedicated to "the box" where the 116th had to deal with a cavalry unit from Fort Irwin who is really good at being the enemy.
"The first time they hit us we were kind of blindsided," said Sgt. Holly Coriell. "We go to learn from that so the next time we were able to come up with a plan and initiate it."
NTC features many different training scenarios and some are designed for the visiting unit to fail like the mass casualty lane that forces the National Guard to come together as a team in a very challenging environment.
The 116th spent a month in California and there was a lot of moving pieces, but having more than 4,000 soldiers and 2,000 pieces of machinery to manage also helps the Brigade's leaders learn how to manage a logistical operation.
"That’s the challenge, it is an operation in flexibility and resiliency because you are always getting pressure to do better," said Col. Sheridan. "As a leader it teaches you to adapt to ever changing conditions.”
The 116th will return home in the coming days and continue their training leading up to their deployment in the spring of 2020.