With the enemy approaching on their eastern flank, the First Team’s Ironhorse Brigade did what they have been training for months to do – to Always Attack.
It’s more than a motto, it’s simply what the Soldiers of 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division do for a living. And they proved it in the culminating event of Pegasus Forge, a training event that spanned more than a month in the Fort Hood training areas. The last full day ended Tuesday with a fires coordination exercise, and Col. Michael D. Schoenfeldt, 1st BCT commander, was stoked about how his troopers performed.
“This is what we call awesomeness,” Schoenfeldt said. “This is what we wait for the entire time, right? Without this, we don’t get to train the right way.”
And it took 45 days in the field to get to this point, he said.
“So, with this live-fire, this synchronization of fires, and all the assets, Air Force and Army – again, just awesome,” Schoenfeldt said.
This type of training event at the Great Place was a once-in-a-military-career type of event for the Ironhorse troopers, according to Schoenfeldt.
“What they have done out here, they’ll never do again,” he said.
It will be years before these Soldiers are part of a training event that includes B-52 bombers, M270 multiple launch rocket systems and M109 paladins, all coming together and firing in concert, he said.
Schoenfeldt said his brigade’s troopers are enthusiastic about the training, and used the fact that Ironhorse met its reenlistment goals for the year in June as an indicator.
“That’s because we train in a tough, realistic environment, and that’s what they joined the Army for,” he said. “Not to sit back on the post.”
Throughout the weeks of training, the brigade started with individual qualifications on their weapon systems, ranging from small arms to the Bradleys and Abrams, working their way up to larger groups until what was seen at the fires coordination exercise, according to Schoenfeldt.
“All the way up to all 87 tanks, 138 Bradleys, and the 4,465 people that it takes to actually get this done,” he said. “And that’s hard. And that’s why the individual trooper is the most storied treasure that we have. Without them, none of this happens.”
Maj. Gen. Jeff Broadwater, commanding general of the 1st Cav. Div., emphasized the importance of this training event as the brigade’s scheduled training rotation at the National Training Center was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were fortunate enough to have a training area like here at Fort Hood, Texas, that allows us to kind of synchronize these events and give the brigade that repetition or rigor needed to be ready in the future,” Broadwater said.
But it’s not just about real estate, it took a lot of people from across Fort Hood and even other army posts, according to Broadwater.
“We always get great support from everybody here at Fort Hood,” Broadwater said. “But, in the Army, as a division commander, I am responsible for training two levels down. We have had a lot of the division support out here providing what we call observer coach trainers. We’ve had fire markers that were involved in this. We had the Air Force from (Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana) here. We also had the … rocket battery that was here. They’re from a battalion out of Fort Sill, Oklahoma, as well as some other units here on post to synchronize this training event. And, of course, range support per-sonnel that were helping us with the (Military Urban Operations Terrain) site.”
All of these assets were needed to help the Ironhorse Brigade’s troopers conduct realistic training in the field.
Schoenfeldt said he had several training priorities as he and the brigade headed into the field for this event, and that his troopers met his priorities and made him feel comfortable that Ironhorse can successfully answer the nation’s call when needed.
“Wherever we go, it doesn’t matter where the U.S. sends us,” he said. “Whether it’s to Europe, or Korea, or somewhere else, I know that we will go there, and we will win. And that’s the pride, the ownership inside the individual trooper – knowing that they can go there and really kick the crap out of somebody. That’s important for moms and dads to know that. We’ve trained them and taken care of them, and they are ready to defend our nation.”