FORT PICKETT, Va. –
After months of renovations, one of Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett’s live fire ranges is back open for business after a short ceremony March 10, 2022, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. Col. Timothy D. Pillion, the MTC garrison commander, gave remarks at the ceremony, which concluded with a live-fire demonstration.
The renovated range now serves as the Automated Infantry Squad Battle Course after intensive renovations, which began in September 2021. The new complex is 133 acres and incorporates 26 stationary targets and seven moving targets for infantry and armor. It also incorporates eight defensive battle positions and two maneuver lanes.
According to the MTC Range Operations team, the new range helps expand capabilities and takes some of the pressure off the nearby Infantry Platoon Battle Course. The IPBC is used extensively when Fort Pickett hosts Exportable Combat Training Capability rotations, which focuses on collective training at the platoon-level. During that time, the IPBC can’t also support squad-level battle drills and forced the range operations staff to temporarily alter other existing ranges to accommodate squad-level training.
The new AISBC will now serve as a permanent, dedicated facility for squad validations, saving Range Operations about 1,600 man hours previously spent outfitting other ranges not designed for that type of training.
The MTC Range Operations staff and Directorate of Public Works staff led the charge for the renovation project, coming together to complete the large-scale project in less time than originally estimated.
“Our Range Operations staff and DPW did an excellent job collaborating on how to construct this range in a short timeframe and with a very limited budget,” said Pillion. “They were able to complete it much faster and cheaper than possible through normal military construction processes.”
“The project was innovatively executed to bring the range online way earlier than scheduled,” added Lt. Col. James Shaver, Chief of Plans, Training and Security for MTC. “It adds immense capabilities to Fort Pickett.”
During the grand opening, Pennsylvania National Guard Soldiers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, conducting annual training at Fort Pickett, provided a live-fire demonstration of the new range. The battalion is currently training for an upcoming rotation at the National Training Center, and their commander, Maj. Eric Ponzek, said the AISBC is a tremendous help in their preparation.
“I love training, and this range is pretty awesome. Building up through the gates of live fire, squad live fire is something we have to do before we get down the street and do the platoon live fire, so having this additional resource at our disposal helps throughput,” said Ponzek. “Having ranges like this makes it easier for us to get through our gates and get to our next big training objective at the National Training Center.”
The renovations to the range follow shortly after a major overhaul at MTC’s Multi-Purpose Range Complex, completed in late 2020. The MPRC, one of only four on the east coast, is an 832-acre range and can serve a wide-variety of vehicles including Bradleys, tanks, Humvees, Light Armored Vehicles and Amphibious Assault Vehicles. It can also serve rotary wing aerial gunnery. It boasts more than 100 targets, 16 defensive battle positions and four maneuver lanes.
The MPRC, the new AISBC and the installation’s other live-fire ranges and training capabilities continue to make it a key training location for not just the Virginia National Guard, but for units from other states and services.