Soldiers go through intense training at Fort Irwin

By  | 

FORT IRWIN, Calif. (KKTV) - We got a chance to embed with some of our Fort Carson soldiers recently at the Army's National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California.

Fort Carson soldiers train at the National Training Center.

Made of 72 tons of steel and armor, the tank is an important piece of the U.S. Army.

"This is one of the centerpieces of our Army, the M1A2 Abrams main battle tank," said Major Scott Stephens, Executive Officer of the 1st Battalion of the 8th Infantry. "We often say that one tank has more fire power than almost an entire infantry company just by itself."

"It’s an incredible piece of equipment and technology that our Army has and one reason, one very small thing besides the people, that make our Army one of the greatest Army’s in the world," he added.

A few soldiers man the machine.

"Since there's four people in this tank, you get to really know everybody. So it is a big brotherhood, big family," said Sgt. Nathan Peterson, 3rd Armored Brigade.

"Our soldiers are trained to a level of proficiency that they can be driving this thing, up to 40 miles an hour, and hit a target up to 4,000 meters away; while driving, on the move, at night, under any kind of conditions," said Maj. Stephens.

The National Training Center helps each soldier grow, no matter their specialty.

Some train to help civilians after soldiers move through towns.

"We would go into a town and we would assess their needs and make sure that they have all of the things that they need to sustain themselves after we leave their town," said Capt. Aaron Gunning, Civil Affairs Team Chief.

That includes things like water, food, and humanitarian aid.

"We try to be the liaison ... to give them whatever they might need," Capt. Gunning added.

Fort Carson soldiers tell me the training center is like a dress rehearsal.

"A very fast-paced dress rehearsal with a director that's very strict and moves things along," said Lt. Catherine Joyce.

It's fast-paced, intensive training.

"Essentially, what you have to normally work within a couple of days, you get typically one to maybe a half-day to plan and develop a plan," said Sgt. Christopher Bates, 3rd Brigade.

"It's almost like you're cramming for finals, all the time, every day," Lt. Joyce added.

After their rotation at the National Training Center, each unit leaves their mark at the Rockpile.

A pile of boulders are set-up. Once soldiers train at Fort Irwin they paint their unit symbols on the rocks.

As the sign reads there, the pile of rocks is like a guest book for soldiers who take part in the war games.

"I've done a deployment over in Iraq, so it actually, it mirrors it quite well," said Staff Sgt. Deah Carbaugh, National Guard.

"It's about as close as you can get," said Staff Sgt. Ryan Keithley.

As close as they can get to what they'll experience thousands of miles away when they're called to serve our country.

The 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team will deploy to Europe in January.