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NEWS | July 3, 2024

Red Arrow Transformed by Joint Readiness Training Exercise

By Staff Sgt. Kati Volkman, Wisconsin National Guard

FORT JOHNSON, La. - Over the past month, more than 5,000 Soldiers from across the United States and Canada, led by the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Wisconsin National Guard, have tested their skills at the Joint Readiness Training Center.

“In the National Guard, so few organizations get to come to the JRTC and actually get to go through a rotation,” said 1st Sgt. Christian Byrd, 3rd Battalion, 126th Infantry Regiment headquarters company. “For a lot of these guys, as they move on in their careers, they may never get to experience another training event like this, so we encourage them to take advantage of the training and also try to have a little fun along the way.”

Capt. David Eischen, commander of Company C, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion, said this training was the closest thing many of his troops have had to real-world deployment scenarios.

“Because we are dealing with both real world and notional injuries and illnesses, there are more patients to work with here, as we try to simulate a large-scale combat operation environment, than I saw on multiple deployments,” Eischen said.

From the Soldier’s perspective, Command Sgt. Maj. Aaron Johnson, the senior enlisted leader of the 32nd IBCT, believes this was the toughest, most realistic training the Soldiers have ever received.

“The thing I’m most proud of is the attitude they had and how much they learned from being able to do their military job for such a solid stretch of time,” Johnson said. “Now  we need to figure out how to best build more of this realistic training into our drill weekends and annual training, considering our limited resources and time.”

Col. Matthew Elder, commander of the 32nd IBCT, agreed.

“When you get these opportunities for a longer time frame of training, you can see the collective progression and growth over time,” said Elder. “This is notable as Soldiers build trust in one another and their leadership, along with growing their skills in their jobs and their basic Soldier skills.”

Col. Brion Aderman, commander of the rotational support group for this training cycle, said the exercise will change the way the 32nd IBCT trains for decades.

“A good majority of the next two-three generations of leadership are right here on the ground and shared this experience,” Aderman said. “Going forward, those future first sergeants, company commanders, battalion and brigade commanders and command sergeants major, they will have this shared training to look back on. They’ll reflect on the lessons learned and be able to move forward with a common understanding.”

Brig. Gen. Matthew J. Strub, the Wisconsin deputy adjutant general for Army, met with many Soldiers and leaders during the exercise and advised that troops at every level would use what they have learned at the JRTC for the rest of their careers.

“You aren’t going to win every fight, but you will learn from every fight and take that knowledge with you into future training and deployments,” Strub said.



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