FORT IRWIN, Calif. — The Troopers of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment play an essential role in training the U.S. Army for future conflict. But they would not be able to accomplish this mission with such ferocity, without the love and support of their spouses. A Box tour for the 11th ACR spouses is how the Regiment demonstrates the importance of the Troopers’ mission. As part of the tour, the regiment invites the spouses of 11th ACR out to the Box, both to give them a tour of the National Training Center and to give them a chance to see first-hand what their soldiers are doing every rotation.
These tours incorporate not only informative events, but also fun ones. Their purpose is both to demonstrate what Blackhorse Troopers do in the NTC, and also to keep the spouses engaged by giving them hands-on understanding of their soldier’s mission. Traditionally, the tour begins with a bus ride into the training area, more commonly known as The Box, where the spouses are given the day’s plan. This also is a perfect opportunity to see some landmarks as they pass through the Box on their way to Razish, one of the most important cities in the training area.
The tour kicks off once the spouses reach Razish, where they can take in the different buildings and space for training the visiting unit. The tour takes them on a walkthrough of the most important buildings and even the underground tunnels that connect certain ones. During this tour, the spouses learn to appreciate why the buildings were designed the way they were, and also how it helps the Regiment simulate a wide variety of different training scenarios. Within the buildings of Razish, the Blackhorse Troopers can simulate a large scale city defense, holding a VIP hostage in large and confusing buildings, and even simulate the confusion of the fog of war.
The spouses also walk through the market area of town where role-players are dressed to simulate civilians selling everything from food to televisions. With this walkthrough, the Blackhorse spouses learn why the Regiment uses role-players to present a more complicated scenario for the rotational unit to overcome. This leaves the visiting soldiers better equipped to deal with the situations they could face on a deployment.
After the market walkthrough, the spouses are able to view a simulation of a SOKOL (Polish for “Falcon”) helicopter flyover from a rooftop. Although the pilot and crew of the aircraft are not themselves Blackhorse Troopers, they provide pivotal support to the Regiment, enabling them to succeed every rotation
After this demonstration, the spouses learn about the after-action review process. Every unit in the Army always strives to improve, and the Blackhorse Regiment is no different. The spouses take this moment to perform an AAR on the demonstration, helping the Regiment to improve their future demonstrations, while also giving the spouses a better understanding of the AAR process.
With the tour nearly over, the 11th ACR demonstrates for the spouses how to operate weapons used by the Regiment during rotation. The spouses are then given the opportunity to operate and fire the weapons for themselves. These weapons range from the standard M4 rifle, to the M240B machine gun and the .50 caliber machine gun. After the spouses have had their chance to fire these for themselves, they return to the bus where they can relax and discuss the tour on the return back to Regiment.
This event is a perfect chance for the spouses of Blackhorse Troopers to not only better understand what their Trooper does at the National Training Center, but also gives them a chance to actually take part in some of the fun and exciting things the Regiment does every rotation. Most importantly, this tour is also a way to show appreciation for the spouses’ sacrifice and support of the Regiment’s mission.
The Blackhorse Experience for the 11th ACR spouses is modeled after the official NTC Community Box Tours, which occur on roll-out day of each rotation. The Community Box Tours include a briefing by NTC Commanding General, Brig. Gen. David Lesperance, introducing guests to all aspects of the National Training Center and Fort Irwin, including the large roles the Operations Group, 916th and MEDDAC play, among others. Guests from all over the world are welcome and attend.