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Live-fire drill helps sharpen infantry skills of New York National Guard members

By Spc. Alexander Rector | New York National Guard | July 21, 2015

FORT DRUM, N.Y. - The Soldiers moved into position and opened fire on the enemy. Meanwhile, other members of Company B 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment, maneuver forward, closer to the foe.

Actual rounds went downrange during this platoon live-fire drill.

"As an infantryman this is the most likely course of action that we're going to face," said Staff Sgt. Justin Gauthier, a Plattsburgh, New York, resident and one of the company's squad leaders. "This is our bread and butter. I want this to become muscle memory."

A live-fire exercise is one of many used by military forces to sharpen maneuvering skills by incorporating live ammo and giving realistic scenarios.

Bravo 2-108, based in Morrisonville, New York, is one of nearly a half-dozen infantry companies from the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT), making the most of its training to instruct and develop its Soldiers.

"I think we're doing everything awesome this year," said Spc. Sean Lockwood, an infantryman with Company B, 2-108. "It's great training and I've never had anything like it."

Each fire-team, consisting of between 3-4 Soldiers, is overseen by a team leader who provides hands-on guidance to the Soldiers. Infantry Soldiers are trained to engage, fight and defeat the enemy in face-to-face combat.

"A lot of the responsibility relies on the team leaders," said Gauthier. "I'm just there to give them advice and information to pass down to their guys."

As part of their training, the unit will be participating in a Warfighter exercise later this month. The exercise, designed as a series of war games, will pit 27th IBCT Soldiers against active duty Soldiers provided by Fort Drum, home of the 10th Mountain Division.

"Working with active-duty Soldiers is beneficial," Lockwood said. "It gives us a chance to work with other Soldiers who can give critical feedback."

The 108th Infantry Regiment, along with the rest of the 27th IBCT, is carrying out its annual training period in cooperation with the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB).

This partnership allows the Soldiers from the 27th IBCT to familiarize themselves with Army helicopters such as the UH-60 Black Hawk and the CH-47 Chinook.

"It's definitely a great experience," said Lockwood, a Washingtonville, New York, resident. "I've never been on a Black Hawk before, and this year I've been on one three times already."

The intensive training this year is part of an Exportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) exercise designed to prepare Bravo 2-108, along with the rest of the 27th IBCT, for its upcoming rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, scheduled for next summer.

"I've been in Bravo Company for 12 years," said Gauthier. "This is definitely the best training that we've had."