By SGT Shaylon Youngblood, 2-108 Cavalry Squadron
ERBIL AIR BASE, Iraq – The Louisiana National Guard’s C Troop, 2nd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment’s command team created and conducted what has been coined as the Infantry Training Academy (ITA) to train Troopers on fundamental Soldier skills.
Capt. Schutz, the C Troop commander and 1st Sgt. Kogel, the senior enlisted advisor of C Troop, identified a need for fundamental training after a year of meeting pre-mobilization requirements. After recognizing the resources available to mobilized Troopers, Schutz and Kogel organized and executed the ITA.
“The intent for the infantry training academy was to exploit the time and resource opportunities that we have here that we don’t necessarily have back at home while simultaneously increasing our lethality and becoming masters in the basic battle drills,” said Schutz. “The troopers took to the academy in different ways…It taught them the approval process, operational and logistical considerations and really showed them the big picture.”
Schutz provided his platoon leaders, 1st Lt. Kenney and 2nd Lt. Olvey, with his intent and desired end state of the ITA. Schutz and his team conducted the academy over an eight week period, highlighting crew drills, machine gun theory, and the empowerment of junior leaders.
“I think that the academy, at least here, gave us the opportunity to use critical thinking and really learn a new set of skills for our tactical toolbox,” said Kenney.
Throughout the eight week period, Coldsteel’s Noncommissioned Officers (NCO) made sure that all Troopers had every opportunity to train and grow as infantrymen. In addition to training, the academy allowed platoons to identify areas of refinement to platoon standard operating procedures and focus on mission-oriented training. The academy also enhanced unit cohesion and strengthened the Troopers’ knowledge of various mission sets.
“The academy empowered and opened the eyes and minds of the Troopers to training management,” said a NCO from Coldsteel.
“We all put our heads together and basically created new standard operating procedures from scratch, and our mission here has been something we needed to deliberately practice,” said Kenney.
Coldsteel geared training toward the Troop’s mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. The Troop’s mission required them to provide an aerial response force, quick reaction force, and ground movement teams in support of various missions across the Combined Joint Operational Area.
“Our mission here isn’t exactly the black and white description of a dismounted scout. I took my commander’s intent and applied it to what our mission is here. This created the opportunity for not only myself to think outside the box, but my Troopers as well,” said Kenney.
In addition to basic skills and improving the Troop’s SOPs, the academy gave Troopers a chance to successfully utilize limited resources, such as air assets and joint tactical attack controllers.
“The Troop met the intent for the training academy,” said Schutz. “The Troop benefited by increasing not only lethality and technical skills, but for our officers and some of our young leaders, it reinforced how to take a commander’s intent and end state, build a plan to meet such and finding a way to execute that plan made. It was a cool process from top down and to see some of the young leaders learn two and three levels up was pretty cool.”