The sound of artillery rounds hitting the ground is difficult to miss around Fort Hood, as troopers train day and night to prepare for combat operations.
“Every time you hear a sound, that’s just us getting better,” Col. Mike Schoenfeldt, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, said.
The Ironhorse troops are currently on a 45-day combined arms live-fire exercise, preparing the Soldiers for large-scale combat operations through training and a lot of repetition.
“We do it until we don’t get it wrong,” Schoenfeldt said, “instead of just telling them to get it right.”
More than 100 people from Central Texas attended the live-fire exercise Friday to see firsthand what a cavalry brigade does to train for operations, including state representatives Brad Buckley, TX-District 54, and Cole Hefner, TX-District 5.
Although he grew up in the greater Fort Hood area, Buckley said this was the first time he was able to experience a live-fire exercise and he is very thankful for the involvement.
“It’s an amazing experience of the firepower of the Army and the professionalism,” Buckley said. “Just to watch the lethality of the Army – it’s impressive.”
Friday’s exercise involved a combined-arms breach, which incorporated all the brigade’s assets, with a little air support from the 166th Aviation Brigade, First Army – Division West. The training simulated
chemical attacks, which involved the use of yellow smoke to simulate the attack on the forces.
The obstacle the unit had to breach was set up with concertina wire, something similar to what an enemy in combat would set up for a defensive position. The team used C4 to breach the obstacle and signaled “breach open” with green smoke. While everything was going on, the troopers were being evaluated.
“We have observer-controllers down there right now, embedded in the unit,” Schoenfeldt explained. “They have a matrix to grade off of and we have a grading rubric.”
The commander said they began the training with a tactical exercise with just the leaders. After seeing the site, the leaders were able to make decisions and figure out their plan of attack.
“It was an education like I’ve never seen before,” Pete Beronio, of Killeen said.
Beronio brought his son Nico with him for the unique experience. The 11-year-old boy was excited to climb into several tanks the Ironhorse Brigade had set up for people. The boy climbed into the M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle and spun around in the turret like he has been doing it for years.
“It was cool,” he said. “I’d do it again.”
Schoenfeldt said he enjoys showcasing his troops during training, because he knows how much Central Texas supports the troops and want to witness first-hand what they do on a daily basis.
“As a citizen of this great country, to experience an event like this, you’ll certainly sleep a bit better tonight knowing your country is in good hands on the national defense front,” Buckley said of the experience. “I’m very, very proud to represent so many folks that serve in the United States Army.”