FORT BLISS, Texas –
The Mississippi Army National Guard's 1-155th Infantry Regiment trained for real-world missions under the watchful eye of First Army recently. The goal was to familiarize Soldiers with a rapid response capable of a quick, mobile reaction in whatever area of responsibility they find themselves in.
Soldiers from the regiment also performed individual weapons qualification, a mandatory event in annual training and the first step in the collective training exercise that combined mechanized and light infantry maneuvers with sustainment support in preparation for upcoming missions.
Sgt. Maj. Brian Ponder of the 1-155th explained the benefit of training.
"We are preparing Soldiers to meet the mission demands in an AOR," Ponder said. "First Army uses their expertise in coaching and mentoring Soldiers in their area of expertise to help them meet and react accordingly to any obstacle they may face."
First Army's mission is to be the final step in a unit's validation process. Utilizing many years of real-world experience, OC/Ts develop, mentor, and educate Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers.
Master Sgt. Benny Modkins of First Army served as a range safety during the exercise.
"We're out here providing support for units that may not have the training capability at a home station,” Modkins said. “Out here we have Simulated Training Exercise (STX) lanes, small arms firing ranges, and gunnery tables to name a few.
“This helps facilitate large-scale training to meet the demands of the regiment's mission by validating the subordinate unit's lethality and readiness so that each soldier is proficient in their skill set. First Army also provides other support roles as well by filling in and acting as a backup in administrative roles to assure the mission can proceed without incident."
Surrounded by Bradley Fighting Vehicles, M1 Abrams, and Light Troop Carriers 2nd Lt. Josh Stoger of the 1-155th awaited orders from the top during day zero, the first iteration of many in the training for mobile artillery.
Stoger explained the expectation and anticipation of working with First Army.
"We're coming from Mississippi, where we don't have the proper space to conduct a lot of these maneuvers with different types of artillery, Stoger said.
“I'm really looking forward to this exercise, it will be a great learning experience for us to be able to work with such a large number of Soldiers," he said. "First Army has a lot of experience and their OC/Ts can offer different perspectives on ways to do things backed with years of real-world practical knowledge. It will be great for the Soldiers to be exposed to this mentorship to help build their skill set and become proficient in their MOS."
1st Lt. Christian Sanchez, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-155th, also talked about the benefit of working alongside First Army.
"It's great that First Army is here to share their knowledge with us, granting leaders time and availability to utilize white space to further develop as leaders," Sanchez said.
"First Army is vital in the training of new weapon systems for the snipers and scouts,” Sanchez said. “This training really helps the soldiers become familiar and proficient with these new systems. First Army is introducing us to new TTP's to adopt that leadership has not had. The OC/Ts have good information that you wouldn't get from a drill weekend and their outside perspective really helps."