There was more noise than usual coming from Fort Stewart throughout the month of February as 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division practiced synchronizing battlefield effects during company-level combined arms live-fire exercises.
The CALFEXs were part of the brigade’s training progression in preparation for their rotation to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California this spring.
The exercise forced tank and mechanized infantry company teams from 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment and 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment to integrate their battalion’s organic mortars, artillery from 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment, engineer support from the 10th Engineer Brigade to breach obstacles, and attack aviation from 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment.
Capt. Sam Herbert, the commander for Company A, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, said the CALFEX forced his company to integrate enablers and synchronize their effects on an enemy at the right time and place.
“I wanted to use the training event to certify my unit’s [Standard Operating Procedures] and increase our ability to synchronize multiple assets in order to destroy an enemy armored threat,” said Herbert. “These assets, supporting us with direct and indirect fires, were essential to the company’s ability to destroy the enemy force, especially while we conducted a combined arms breach.”
Herbert said including the enablers in their troop leading procedures was vital to accomplishing their mission.
“One of the keys to being successful was conducting coordination with these assets as early as possible so that each member of the team had a common operating picture of what I was trying to accomplish on the ground,” said Herbert.
The company teams also had to conduct a passage of lines with either their battalion scouts or cavalry troops from 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, who were conducting a screen line during the hours of darkness.
First Lt. John Reitz, a fire support officer with 5th Sqdn., 7th Cav. Rgmt., said the CALFEX showed the maneuver elements the effects of indirect fires, something they might not be able to visualize without live rounds.
“The CALFEX allowed fire supporters to implement voice and digital communications to allow real-world timing and effects for maneuver commanders,” said Reitz.
To simulate fighting a near peer threat during decisive action, the company teams also had to react to their communications being jammed, receiving indirect fire, a non-persistent chemical attack and evacuating casualties and disabled equipment.
Lt. Col. Christopher Mahaffey, the commander for 5th Sqdn., 7th Cav. Rgmt., said the CALFEX was a good reflection of what the brigade will face at NTC.
“The integration of enablers and the ability to practice working with the other battalions of the Brigade will prove invaluable to our mission at NTC,” said Mahaffey. “In the end, we have been able to certify lethal Cavalry Troops who are experts at the basics and are ready to fight and win at the NTC or anywhere in the world.”
Herbert agreed that challenging and realistic exercises ensures their formations are ready for a myriad of threats.
“The CALFEX was one of the most rewarding exercises that many of us have ever participated in,” said Herbert. “At the end of the exercise, we felt confident we are more prepared than ever to conduct our rotation at the National Training Center as well as be ready to conduct contingency operations worldwide.”