BOISE, Idaho – More than 600 Idaho Army National Guard Soldiers, joined by Soldiers from the Montana, Oregon, Ohio and South Carolina National Guard, have been training in Texas since mobilizing in early August.
“Task Force Rattler is trained, motivated and ready to assume all assigned missions in Southwest Asia,” said Lt. Col. Sam McDowell, task force commander. “This team has rapidly prepared and come together as a cohesive and lethal fighting force.”
The task force will deploy to Southwest Asia this month to support Operation Spartan Shield. They will rotate out with 250 Soldiers from the Idaho Army National Guard and Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Florida Army National Guard Soldiers.
Both rotations are made up mainly of Soldiers from the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team headquartered in Boise, Idaho, with battalions in Montana, Oregon and Nevada. Idaho Soldiers comprise nearly 20 percent of the first and 65 percent of the second rotations. Each rotation is approximately 12 months.
Task Force Rattler will fall under Task Force Spartan while overseas and is almost through approximately 45 days of vigorous day and night training at Fort Bliss. The unit also trained for more than a year in anticipation of the mission.
“The Soldiers of the 116th are trained and ready to go,” said Col. Eric Orcutt, 116th CBCT commander. “I could not be more proud of these men and women and the efforts they’ve put forth in training and preparing for this mission. They are eager and they are focused and, as always, they will achieve the highest level of success.”
Soldiers from the 118th Infantry Regiment from the South Carolina National Guard and the 285th Medical Company from the Ohio National Guard are also part of Task Force Rattler, providing the task force the ability to execute combined arms maneuvers.
The intense training at Fort Bliss included day and night combined arms maneuver missions. The Idaho Army National Guard shot 120 mm mortar rounds from M113 Armored Mortar Carriers, 25 mm rounds from Bradley Fighting Vehicles and 120 mm rounds from M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks. During the live-fire and joint operations, the training integrated scouts, snipers, South Carolina’s Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected tactical vehicles and overhead protection from Apaches from Charlie Company, 1st of the 501st Aviation Battalion from Fort Bliss.
Ohio Army National Guard’s 285th Medical Company has a significant role in the deployment as a Role 2 field medical establishment. Task force combat medics in the field are the first step in the line of care as Role 1 medics, providing initial lifesaving measures, self-aid and buddy care at the point of injury. For a severe medical emergency, medics transport patients to the 285th’s Role 2 field medical facility.
“We would provide surgery at the operating facility, as well as lab work, dental care and X-ray capabilities, making us an even higher echelon of care out in the field,” said Capt. Destiny Pathammavong, 285th Medical Company commander. “If more care is needed, we would stabilize the patient and send them to a Role 3 facility, which would be a hospital.”
During training at Fort Bliss, medics performed Role 1 and 2 care and triage and responded to a simulated mass casualty medical emergency.
“This has been amazing for my team to even get this experience,” said Pathammavong. “Typically, when we train in the field, we are pretending as if we are getting casualties from the Role 1, without having that asset. To have that here and be able to integrate with the Role 1, synchronize with all the medical assets that are available and to work out the communication piece of it as well, has been as real as it’s going to get in a training environment.”
An evaluation team from the 189th Infantry Brigade Combined Arms Training Battalion from Joint Base Lewis-McChord conducted qualifications of the maneuvers, combined arms, live-fire and mass casualty medical demonstrations.
OSS is a joint mission under the U.S. Central Command and is part of Operation Enduring Freedom. OSS is supported primarily by Army National Guard combat units from across the country.