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'Ironhorse' brigade trains for future missions

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The 1st Brigade Combat Team "Ironhorse," 1st Cavalry Division, prepared for future missions with a Tactical Operations Center Exercise at Fort Hood, Dec. 3-6.

The Ironhorse Brigade executed readiness training by putting together the Deployable Assembly Shelter, known as a DRASH, and establishing communications as part of the Tactical Operations Center Exercise, or TOCEX.

"Being prepared and mission ready is important to the success of any unit," said Sgt. Maj. Robert Leimer, Philadelphia native and operations sergeant major for the Ironhorse Brigade. "If you aren't mission ready, you can't execute your commander's intent."

"You never know when you are going to need this set up, you never know when your mission will change or where you will be that you will need to know how to set up and work out of a DRASH," explained Spc. Koehl Heebink, a River Falls, Wis., native, and forward observer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop of the Ironhorse Brigade.

The DRASH is a quick-erect shelter system that integrates shelter, mobility, lighting, heating, cooling and power in one package. It is part of the Army's Standard Integrated Command Post System.

The Soldiers organized the equipment, identified necessary equipment to take to the field, inspected and transported the chosen equipment to the site, and then set it up, Leimer explained. "We wanted to inspect and ensure we still had all our equipment from before we deployed. I wanted to make sure we still had all the tents and connectors that put this whole thing together."

After completing the set up, the perimeter and communications equipment were installed.

"You have to have a plan before boots hit ground and be ready to implement it right away," Leimer explained. "Communications is what ties everything to a plan, so if you can't establish communications, your plan will fall apart. That's why we start here. If you are not mission ready it will go bad from day one, and when it goes bad, you can't crawl from out of that hole."

Leimer, who has lead the brigade in the DRASH set up since 2008, said that it takes about 25 Soldiers to properly construct the equipment, but 50 is a more ideal number.

"The more Soldiers [who are] helping, [it] helps make the process quicker and smoother," Leimer added.

"The more you set it up, the more it becomes second nature," said Heebink, who has been involved in more than seven set ups. "Every time you set it up, you become faster and more proficient at it."

Due to a recent deployment, this was the first time in nearly two years Ironhorse Soldiers have constructed the DRASH, but Leimer believes that their hard work ended in success.

"I am proud of what the Soldiers accomplished," Leimer concluded. "It looks great."

Following a six-month reset period, Ironhorse will resume field training exercises in February.

Article by Sgt. John Couffer and Spc. Bailey Kramer, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs