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NEWS | July 11, 2022

First Army supporting XCTC rotation at Fort Drum

By Mike Vrabel | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Blackstone-based 3647th Maintenance Company, 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group and the Cedar Bluff-based 1033rd Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th RSG, are supporting a New Jersey National Guard brigade’s eXportable Combat Training Capability rotation June 9 - 30, 2022, at Fort Drum, New York. 

The two companies will be supporting the 44th Infantry Brigade Combat Team as they conduct their XCTC rotation. 

The 1033rd’s commander, Capt. Jack McDonald IV, said his Soldiers are ready to hit the ground running during what will be their biggest training event in a few years.

“The 1033rd Engineer Support Company is extremely motivated for our opportunity to head to Fort Drum and do what we do best, getting in the dirt and digging,” said McDonald. “This will be 1033rd’s largest training event since 2018 when the unit conducted a NTC rotation to Fort Irwin.”

The 1033rd’s Soldiers will primarily be supporting the 44th as they build defensive positions during their combat readiness training. 

“We will primarily be focusing on perfecting our survivability operations by defensively digging in battalion and brigade-level elements,” said McDonald. “With a long history of excellence, the 1033rd is excited and ready to tackle this challenge head on.”

During the exercise, The 3647th will provide a variety of support capabilities, including wheeled vehicle recovery and maintenance, ground support equipment maintenance and electronics and armament maintenance, according to Capt. Alec B. Hulbert, commander the 3647th. Before they can provide that support, however, the unit will conduct a lengthy convoy north to Fort Drum. 

“This is going to be a solid opportunity for the Soldiers of 3647th Maintenance Company, particularly the newer Soldiers,” said Hulbert. “A multi-day, interstate convoy followed by several weeks of realistic training in an unfamiliar environment will provide ample opportunity to hone our maintenance craft and assess how well we've been training.”

VNG Soldiers assigned to the Emporia-based 1710th Transportation Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th RSG helped load and transport the 3647th’s vehicles and equipment for the long haul north, giving the transportation Soldiers valuable experience. 

“The Soldiers are so excited to get back on the road and assist units with real live missions. Over the past couple of years, COVID-19 put a halt on things. Our goal this summer, with the support of our new Battalion commander, was to solicit line haul missions to allow the Soldiers to get to what they love to do,” said Capt. Karin Owens, commander of the 1710th. “We were so excited to support the 3647th on their way to Fort Drum. The Soldiers worked hard to make sure the vehicles were ready, recons were done and hours of convoy prep in preparation of the movement. If anyone in the state needs help, 1710th is ready: ‘You call, we haul!’”

For his maintainers, Hulbert said the exercise will be a real test of the 3647th’s readiness and expertise, but not one they are unfamiliar with.

“The last XCTC support was for the 116th IBCT back in 2019 at Fort Pickett,” said Hulbert. “This is going to be an important azimuth check.”

According to the XCTC web site, the Army National Guard program is an instrumented brigade field training exercise designed to certify platoon proficiency in coordination with First Army. An XCTC rotation provides an experience similar to a Combat Training Center rotation the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, or Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, to a training facility closer to home. XCTC brings full training resource packages to location, reducing the need to spend time and money traveling to a distant training location.

Training lanes are customized to meet objectives and engage maneuver units as well as the sustainment units that support them. Situational training lanes may include ambushes, hasty attacks, movement to contact, recon missions, vehicle recovery and more.

Training aids include battlefield effects, civilians on the battlefield, foreign national role players, and Soldiers and vehicles outfitted with global positioning system-based instrumentation system tracking technology. The GPS system tracks vehicles and participants to the Soldier level, allowing unit leaders to replay the day’s training scenarios and discuss lessons learned in instrumented after action reviews with 2D, 3D, tactical audio and handheld video within minutes of mission completion.