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NEWS | June 15, 2022

Utah Field Artillery Brigade Leads XCTC Exercise in Idaho

By Sgt. 1st Class John Etheridge, 128th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

ORCHARD COMBAT TRAINING CENTER, Idaho – The Utah National Guard’s 65th Field Artillery Brigade, “America’s Thunder,” is participating in Western Strike 22, a large-scale, multistate field artillery training exercise, June 7-16.

The eXportable Combat Training Capabilities exercise provides National Guard units with highly immersive and fully instrumented training comparable to a combat training center.

“The 65th Field Artillery Brigade has spent 15 months planning and preparing for Western Strike 22, which will focus on mastery of the fundamentals at the platoon and squad level in preparation for large-scale combat operations,” said Col. Shawn Fuellenbach, commander of the 65th Field Artillery Brigade. “My training objective for America’s Thunder is to build lethal, cohesive teams that are highly trained and disciplined, ready to fight and win.”

The XCTC will allow the 65th FAB to train with its subordinate and partner units, usually stationed in other locations throughout the country. 

Approximately 2,000 National Guard Soldiers from California, Iowa, North Carolina and Utah and active-component Soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Texas are participating in the XCTC. Other Utah National Guard units that will be integrated into the exercise are 2nd General Aviation Support Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment, which will provide air and medevac support; 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne); and the 1457th Engineer Battalion, which will perform specialized training.

Active-duty counterparts from First Army will evaluate Soldiers on readiness objectives and situational training exercises. The exercise is designed to give brigade and battalion staff the knowledge and experience to synchronize fires in a multi-echelon environment. The XCTC will consist of several squad, platoon and battery-sized artillery and rocket live-fire events.

The Utah National Guard serves with nearly 7,300 Soldiers and Airmen trained, equipped and ready to support operations worldwide.

The Idaho Army National Guard’s 143,000-acre Orchard Combat Training Center is 18 miles south of Boise. It provides vast terrain and world-class ranges to prepare brigade combat teams and other units for combat in a realistic training environment.