GOWEN FIELD TRAINING AREA, Idaho, - The game is coming. Training intensity increases. Drills become memorized. You live, sleep, and eat nothing but the game. The day arrives and it's time to implement the training.
The game starts and there are a few troubles, but it isn't anywhere near as hard as it looked like it was going to be. The training was so much harder than the actual game, so now that it's second nature. All that's left is to win.
The second nature of the game is exactly what the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team of the Idaho Army National Guard wants for its soldiers. Except it's no game, it's a year-long deployment to Iraq.
"We want to make sure the scrimmage is a lot harder than the game," said Lt. Col. Farin D. Schwartz, from Meridian Idaho, commander of the 1st Battalion, 148th Field Artillery, headquartered out of Pocatello, Idaho.
In order to make it second nature, the 116th made the training for this deployment more in depth down to the basic levels of being a Soldier.
"Last time we had three months to get ready for deployment and this time we have had 12 months," said Schwartz. "We've been able to focus at the individual soldier level and make them proficient at all tasks so when they experience something in Iraq, there are ready for it.
"I know there is a reduction in combat forces, but the mission over there is still somewhat hostile so we want to make sure they have the necessary tasks to survive if they encounter the enemy."
From learning the latest enemy tactics, to reacting to improvised explosive devices and enemy attacks, this enhanced level of training has been felt at all levels of the chain of command, from the top down to the platoon and squad level soldiers.
"They do a really good job of making the training as accurate as possible," said Spc. Cole Stephan Nielson, of Charlie Company, 145th BSB, 116th CBCT.
"The training is better, more compact and shorter," said 2nd. Lt. Adam Rio, a platoon leader with Golf Company, 145th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th CBCT. "During our last deployment we had six months of training in Fort Bliss, Texas and another month in Alexandria, Louisiana.
"The training being done by this state is far better than what we have had before, and it encompasses a lot of the things that will actually be pertinent to our jobs once we leave."
This training is a crucial part of what is required for this deployment as the overall mission has changed.
"Last deployment we where at a full spectrum operations where we where kicking down doors and hunting for bad people, but this time we are a little more involved in the security of moving life support assets around the country," said Schwartz.
With the intense training and new mission the 116th Cavalry Brigade is ready for game day. All that is left is to go carry out the mission.
"We are ready to deploy, do our mission, and get the soldiers back home," said Schwartz.