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Spartan Soldiers replicate deployment mission, sharpen skills during field training exercise

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It's Fall 2012 and for the Soldiers and leaders of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion (HHBN), U.S. Army South, that meant packing their rucks and heading out to the field for the battalion's annual field training exercise at Camp Bullis, Texas, Oct. 15-18.

Since the field training exercise (FTX) was focused around fully integrating the total force by providing a realistic operational environment to train the unit's Mission Essential Task List, also known as METL, the wooded area at Camp Bullis seemed to be a perfect fit.

According to the HHBN Commander, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Knight, this type of exercise is the perfect opportunity to guage the readiness of his Soldiers, as well as train and test them on their individual Warrior tasks.

"This exercise was the first battalion training event where I've been able to observe the most junior member of our team all the way up to the battalion staff all in one place," said Knight, who took command of the battalion in July. "These types of exercises help validate our ability to deploy as a battalion and support U.S. Army South during a contingency operation within our area of responsibility."

Knight also mentioned that setting up and maintaining the TAA was a key training objective in itself because it allows those support Soldiers to conduct their deployment mission of providing life support to the Soldiers for the duration of the FTX.

More than 70 Soldiers from the battalion were transported out to the field site and quickly set up Tactical Assembly Area Spartan, as well as developed the individual situational training exercise (STX) lanes for the next two day's familiarization and testing.

"Every particular detail or task is a training objective; personnel and accountability, the logistics of transporting Soldiers, setting up communications, coordinating and synchronizing daily operations, security of the area, vehicle and equipment maintenance, and the commanders and first sergeants working together to accomplish the tasks at hand," he said. "These are all vital tasks we are required to conduct as a battalion in order to effectively support the command in a deployed environment."

Once the tactical assembly area set up was complete, the focus shifted to the main training effort of conducting each of the five STX lanes: entry control point (ECP), maintenance, weapons, medical and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN).

The Soldiers moved by foot from lane to lane, sometimes more than a mile, and quickly began their training and testing on the particular tasks.

"You can train all day at home station but nothing can mimic the realistic training we as a battalion need to be an effective force out here away from outside distractions and practicing our wartime mission in field conditions," said Command Sgt. Maj. Lynice Thorpe, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion command sergeant major. "We will continue to have a 'war fighter' mentality in this battalion. It is very important to me that all of our enlisted personnel and officers are trained to standard, meet all the requirements to maintain the proper readiness level, and are prepared to execute a contingency operation if called upon to do so."

Thorpe also said she was proud of the effort by all three of her companies; Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Operations Company and Intelligence and Sustainment Company.

"This exercise was a success because of the hard work of all parties involved," she said. "All the Soldiers, NCOs and officers from the companies all the way up to the battalion staff deserve a ton of credit."

Article by Master Sgt. Kevin Doheny, U.S. Army South Public Affairs