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Soldiers gain real-life experience in fake battle

By Bryan Richardson

FORT RILEY — The country of Atropia needed the U.S. Army’s help.

The Donovians entrenched themselves into the country, and the Army worked its way to drive them out.

Thursday represented the “last stand” for the Donovians.

These aren’t real countries, but the type of situation can be real for Fort Riley soldiers.

A mock battle Thursday represented the culmination of Danger Focus II, which began at the end of January.

It was a month-long exercise for all battalions within the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. The team has seven battalions and more than 3,500 soldiers.

The strategy that went into the training dates back to September, said Brig. Gen. Patrick Frank, acting commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley.

“We’ve had them out in individual and collective training throughout the entire fall,” he said. “You’ve heard them out here over the last several weeks doing their live fire.”

Frank said the soldiers and staff not deployed have been focusing on this training.

“You can imagine the amount of planning that has gone in to have an exercise of this scope take place at Fort Riley,” he said.

Capt. Brian Kossler said the soldiers have been doing force-onforce battles for the past 10 days.

He said the battles involved different scenarios, but Thursday involved 3,000 soldiers trying to drive out 600 soldiers.

“While there are only 600 soldiers, they’ve had time to prepare their defense, put in obstacles and occupy favorable terrain,” Kossler said.

Officials planned for the battle to last until the objective is completed or the brigade doesn’t have enough combat power remaining. For the battle, the soldiers and vehicles used a multiple integrated laser engagement or MILES system.

The system provided indication for when a soldier or vehicle had been hit since live rounds weren’t used.

“It’s basically like a really high-tech game of laser tag,” Lt. Col. Ryan Maender said.

Kossler said a major aspects is overcoming the obstacles in place for breach training.

“A breach is a very deliberate operation,” he said. “It requires a lot of practice, which is why we want to get them as many repetitions before they go to the National Training Center.” The soldiers in the brigade will go to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, for 30 days.

“We want to ensure when we send a brigade out to the training center that they’re prepared for that and they’re successful as possible,” Frank said.

Maender said the training area is modeled in a similar manner to the center.

“There’s much more terrain to cover at the center,” he said.

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