Idaho aviation patriciates in nation’s largest multinational live-fire exercise

published: August 10, 2017

Soldiers from the 1-183d Attack Reconnaissance Battalion participated in Operation Northern Strike from 26 July – 9 August in northern Michigan. The National Guard Bureau-sponsored exercise involved more than 5,000 service members from all of the country’s military services, 13 Army and Air National Guard states and the United Kingdom, Danish, Polish, Canadian and Latvian armies.

“It was good to work with multi-national Soldiers and the United States Air Force and Marines,” said Capt. Ramesh Kreizenbeck, the battalion’s assistant operations officer.

Approximately 80 Soldiers from the battalion’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company and A Company, 1-168th General Support Aviation Battalion, participated in the nation’s largest multinational live-fire exercise held primarily at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center and the Alpena Combat Readiness Center. Both training sites are operated by the Michigan National Guard.

The exercise provided military units from all service branches the opportunity to conduct mission command with air, sea and ground forces and the synchronization of fires in a joint, multinational, decisive action engagement.

“We had the opportunity to work with forces from different branches and countries to make sure the mission was accomplished, “Kreizenbeck said. “It’s what you’d find in a deployed environment, it wasn’t Army only.”

Idaho’s aviators provided air support through the use of their Blackhawks, transporting Soldiers on and off the battlefield and VIPs around the training sites.

The training mission provided Idaho’s Soldiers with the opportunity to fly in a different environment and with different aircraft, to include the Chinook.

Northern Strike is the only National Guard hosted exercise accredited by the United States Joint Forces Command as part of the Joint National Training Capability. The globally recognized exercise blends training from all five dimensions – air, land, sea, space, and information - of warfare operation to prepare troops for global activation.

Idaho Army National Guard to spend the summer in a dozen countries

Date: June 1, 2017
Author: CPT Robert J. Taylor
1 Guard: 12 countries.

Soldiers from the Idaho Army National Guard are currently training in four countries and will deploy to train in eight others between now and the end of summer. None of these countries include Afghanistan or Iraq.

Idaho Army National Guard Soldiers are currently training in Canada, Cambodia, Guatemala, and Romania and will soon deploy to Bangladesh, Germany, Nepal, Tanzania, Taiwan, Malaysia, Korea and Morocco.

“Soldiers that volunteer for these missions have the opportunity to utilize their Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) with our allies and partners,” said Lt. Col. Scott Sheridan, director of operations for the Idaho Army National Guard. “Anytime you utilize your MOS, you increase your aptitude as well as increase the interoperability with the host nation’s soldiers and our allies and partners.”

As Citizen-Soldiers, Idaho Guardsmen bring more than just their military skill set to these missions.

“Guard Soldiers typically spend one weekend a month and a few weeks at drill,” said Maj. Jon Frye, an Idaho Army National Guard operations officer. “The rest of the time they are at their civilian employment. They bring these civilian skills and perspectives to their Army job.”

Frye said these skills and perspectives helps Soldiers connect with their counterparts prior to the start of and during any training opportunities.

“It helps build bridges when they are first getting to know each other, ‘oh, we’re not so different,’” Frye said. “It helps them find common ground between them.”

Soldiers volunteer to go on these deployments, which are typically in addition to the Soldiers’ annual training requirements and in locations most people wouldn’t otherwise travel. Deployments typically last between five to 21 days and often focus on peace-keeping missions.

Sgt. 1st Class Matthew J. Alandt traveled to Cambodia last July as part of a Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency mission. The CULP program teaches Army ROTC cadets about foreign cultures around the world.

“I enjoyed my trip to Cambodia,” Alandt said. “It was a great opportunity to travel the world while helping mold future Army officers into leaders. It’s a mixture of travel and cultural exchange and teaching other countries’ military the English language and culture.”

Alandt and a small team will travel to Nepal in June with ROTC cadets to conduct a similar three-week mission. During the first week, the group will spend the first week helping to rebuild a housing structure; the second week interacting with Nepal’s military; and the last week visiting cultural sites in the South Asian country.

Missions around the world like these allow the Idaho Army National Guard to have a global impact in both the State Department and the Department of Defense efforts. Idaho Soldiers have trained under eight of the military’s nine geographic combatants.

“Idaho is known as a respectable, capable and willing partner to support different combatant commands by providing extremely capable and motivated Soldiers to complete these missions,” Sheridan said.

Sheridan said his staff will continue to seek opportunities for Idaho Soldiers to train in Overseas Deployment Missions (ODT). He encourages Soldiers who are interested in participating in future missions to start acquiring a “brown cover” passport and completing other overseas deployment requirements. A brown cover passport is used for official government travel.

116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team honors Fallen Soldiers

Date: May 19, 2017
Author: CPT Robert J. Taylor
116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team honors Fallen Soldiers

GOWEN FIELD, ID – The 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team unveiled the 116th Cavalry Brigade Fallen Soldier Memorial and re-dedicated the 116th Cavalry Association’s memorial Friday at Gowen Field.

“This is to show the families and loved ones of those who have been lost, that they haven’t been forgotten,” said Lt. Col Jim Harper, 116th CBCT executive officer.

The event, held at both the Gowen Field Memorial Park and the brigade’s headquarters, celebrated the service of and honored the Soldiers who died in support of the brigade’s two deployments to Iraq. Operation Iraqi Freedom III in 2004-2005 and Operation New Dawn in 2010-2011 were the largest deployments in the Idaho Army National Guard’s history.

During the ceremony, retired Brig. Gen. Alan C. Gayhart read off the names of the 13 Soldiers who died during the deployments. Meanwhile, Soldiers hung individual dog tags on the battlefield cross, which stands on permanent display at the park.

The battlefield cross memorial consists of a cast of the fallen Soldier’s rifle stuck into the ground with the Soldier’s boots at its base and helmet on top of the rifle. Gayhart explained the historical significance of the cross, which is often used to honor the fallen in combat by fellow Soldiers unable to attend their comrade’s funeral.

A battlefield cross was also dedicated to the unit’s fallen Soldiers in a separate ceremony and now sits in the brigade’s headquarters building. The memorial was forged from the brass of ammunition fired by the brigade’s Soldiers during its first deployment to Iraq.

The family of Cpl. Carrie French, who was killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom III, attended the event.

Idaho Army National Guard completes $2.6 million renovation of Mountain Home Readiness Center

Story and photo by Idaho Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Crystal Ferris
Published: August 17, 2017
Mountain Home Armory

The Idaho Army National Guard readiness center at Mountain Home recently underwent a $2.6 million renovation. The renovation turned an outdated facility into one intended to support the Guard’s training agenda well into the future.

“It is important to reset the useful life of the facility to incorporate future growth and usability of the Idaho Army National Guard,” said Sgt. Jason Tugby, an engineer technician with the Idaho National Guard’s construction facility management office. The reconstruction began in August of last year and was completed in late July. The armory was originally built in 1952 and houses elements of A Company, 116th Brigade Engineer Battalion.

Approximately 70 Soldiers will train in the new readiness center each month. Soldiers from the battalion’s military intelligence company also drill at the training site, known as Edgemeade. “It has modern facilities, which will help improve training,” said Sgt. 1st Class Shane Amidon, the unit’s readiness noncommissioned officer. The training site is large enough to accommodate future expansion and additional Soldiers, as well as provide the necessary capabilities to train and store equipment for deployments.

Major changes include a new mezzanine upstairs with four new classrooms; a reconstruction of latrines, showers, locker rooms, entrances, offices and breakrooms; the installation of a new standing seam metal roof, HVAC systems, insulation, a mass notification fire alarm system and full sprinkler system; and interior and exterior paint.

The Idaho Army National Guard is headquartered in Boise and consist of nearly 3,000 Soldiers. The 116th Brigade Engineer Battalion’s parent unit, the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, is the largest unit in the state with armories in more than 25 Idaho communities.