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NEWS | Aug. 12, 2017

Saber Soldiers demonstrate superior scouting skills during annual training

By Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to Portsmouth-based  2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team competed against each other in a multi-day training and testing event Aug. 6-9, 2017, at Fort Pickett, Virginia.

The competition used many of the tasks outlined in the Excellence in Armor Program with the goal of increasing combat readiness. It was comprised of nine stations, all requiring finely-honed scouting skills to complete tasks in a set period of time, forcing the scouts to focus on refining individual skills and improving their overall confidence. These skills span the full-range of combat relevant skills a brigade commander would rely on these scouts to be able to execute flawlessly in order to complete his battle space picture: locate, close with and engage the enemy.

“The stations started with communications, various radio systems we use as scouts, gunnery skills test, the Long Range Advance Scout Surveillance System, or LRAS3, cavalry reporting, call for fire, personal and vehicle camouflage, Battlefield Anti-Intrusion System, plotting the radius of a curve, measuring the velocity of a stream, and observation post construction, said Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Timberlake, acting first sergeant for Bravo Troop, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team. “The final event will have them provide a report relaying the evaluation as if it were a real-world scout mission.”

On the day of the evaluation, the scouts rucked 4.2 miles in two-man teams to an objective, established secure communications and received a grid to the next station to execute another skill. Some skills were timed events, some were individual skills and some required both Soldiers to work together. This evaluation was a little different than other competitions because instead of land navigation being a station of the competition, the Soldiers were required to use land navigation to plot and trek to each station.

The scouts prepped for the competition for days and were still diligently practicing their skills the day prior, with their eye on a formidable prize.

“The overall winners…will each receive Airborne School seats,” explained 1st Lt. Robert Mckenna, first platoon leader for Bravo Troop.

The winning team included Spc. Eric Dolphy and Spc. Eric Peterson, both assigned to Bravo Troop. The pair brought the skills, speed and intensity to the competition in order to earn their slots for Airborne School.

“I feel like it was a privilege, I feel like I earned it, but really a privilege,” said Dolphy. “I was excited and motivated and I feel like this was the best AT and Cav experience I have ever had.”

“It is Airborne School…I mean, it’s iconic throughout the United States military and to go there is more of a tradition than anything else,” Peterson said.

Other Soldiers echoed Dolphy’s sentiment about it being one of the best, if not the best, annual training they’ve had in recent memory.

The 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conducted their annual-training from July 29- Aug. 12, 2017, at Fort Pickett and are currently concentrating on building and maintaining their individual skills.

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