RAVENNA, Ohio - More than 750 Soldiers of the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Ohio and Michigan National Guards, participated in pre- and post-mobilization training at the Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center here April 5-20, in preparation for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
Each Soldier completed about 100 individual training tasks during the two-week training period, preparing the brigade for its scheduled fall 2011 deployment of about 3,600 Soldiers in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Though a larger Ohio force was mobilized stateside for the Korean War, this will be the Ohio National Guard's largest overseas deployment since World War II.
"This brigade has a long history of combat deployments dating back to the first World War, and the Soldiers who serve today all joined knowing there is a war on and they're going to deploy," said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Rodger Jones, the command sergeant major of the brigade.
Many units within the brigade have deployed individually in support of Kosovo peacekeeping operations, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita relief efforts and Operations Noble Eagle and Iraqi Freedom. However, this will be the brigade's second deployment as an entire brigade, consisting of six battalions, four in Ohio and two in Michigan, and 30 company-sized elements.
"They're training hard," Jones said. "They have the best equipment that can be provided. They're getting the best training. They have the best leadership. The brigade is in very good hands and postured well to go to Afghanistan and do our part for the war .."
The training consisted of two, one-week iterations of PPMT, which included blocks of instruction in land navigation, man-to-man combat, small-arms and automatic weapons, hand grenades, detainee operations, individual movement techniques, improvised explosive device detection and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive agents.
"The whole training is very effective," said Army Sgt. Kenneth Samuels, a CBRN Operations training instructor assigned to Delta Company 1-145 Combat Arms Battalion, Ohio National Guard.
"We are training the Soldiers on more advanced techniques that they did not learn in basic [training] in order to survive and come home safe," Samuels said.
Soldiers were trained in the Army's standard crawl-walk-run approach using classroom instruction, hands-on training and final evaluations. Due to the upcoming deployment, some Soldiers said this training is anything but standard.
"I've learned to take it a lot more serious," said Army Spc. Alexander Goodrow, who is assigned to the 1-125th Infantry Battalion, 37th IBCT, Michigan National Guard. "It's starting to click in my head that people will shoot back at you and you need to react versus just knowing the information."
Goodrow, who has never deployed before, said he is excited for the opportunity and is using the training to prepare as best he can.
"I feel like it's just a refresher for some things, but a lot of this stuff I haven't learned before, so I'm taking a lot [from] it," Goodrow said.
While hundreds of the brigade's Soldiers already received the training in August, every 37th Soldier is scheduled to complete mobilization training in its entirety prior to deploying.
"We will be ready to accomplish whatever the Army asks of us," Jones said.
"I have no doubt, when it's all said and done, when we get on the airplane to go to Afghanistan, we will be ready individually and collectively to perform any mission that the Army assigns us."