NEWS | Feb. 7, 2017

Red Dragons conduct combined live-fire exercise in Qatar

By Capt. Colin J. Cutler | 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team serving on federal active duty in Qatar spent a weekend in early January 2017 at Al Ghalail Range conducting a Combined Arms Live-Fire Exercise. Soldiers conducted an area defense integrating indirect fires with mortars and forward observers, anti-tank capabilities with Javelin teams and direct fire capabilities with M240B machine guns, M249 squad automatic weapons and other small arms.

“Even deployed, there is no greater priority than maintaining readiness,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Samulski, commander of 1st Battalion. “These leaders and Soldiers integrated multiple weapons systems, in both planning and execution, against a tough and realistic threat to evaluate the battalion’s ability to conduct offensive and defensive operations. I couldn’t be more proud of the results and the overall performance of the battalion.”

Prior to the event, 1st Battalion Soldiers trained on the Javelin anti-tank system with Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment based at Camp Buehring. This training included a written test and practical simulation exercises at Camp As Sayliyah. Meanwhile, the mortar teams registered their guns and conducted a mortar live-fire exercise at the range, using both direct lay and indirect lay and integrating forward observers.

For the exercise itself, platoon leaders from each line company planned a defensive engagement area and led a weapons squad and a supporting squad into defensive positions overlooking pre-placed targets—tank hulls with charcoal heat signatures, truck and E-type silhouettes emplaced in the desert. As the notional enemy crossed pre-planned phase lines, the platoon employed echeloned fires to engage them with mortar fire, then anti-tank fire, and machine-gun and small-arms fire.

Approximately 450 Soldiers from 1st Battalion, also known as the Red Dragons, began serving on federal active duty May 13, 2016, and the mobilization is expected to be for about 12 months. They replaced the Virginia National Guard’s Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also known as Task Force Normandy, to conduct security operations in Qatar.

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