The “Mustang Squadron,” 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, U.S. Army, conducted a combined arms live-fire exercise (CALFEX) for the first time in over two years to certify the squadron’s effectiveness on a battlefield at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
The 6th Sqn., 8th Cav. Regt., 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID, completed modernization this past July, making it the Army's most modern cavalry squadron, and is preparing to defeat any threat in large-scale combat operations through expert coaching and well-trained, cohesive teams.
“This is the first time in over two years this event has occurred for the squadron, and it usually will happen once a year, if we’re lucky,” said Lt. Col. James Perkins, commander of 6th. Sqn., 8th Cav. Regt., 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID. “So this is a fantastic opportunity, and it’s really a leadership factory because not only are the soldiers training, but it’s their first real opportunity to that; these platoon, troop and company commanders have to apply this, to report to higher headquarters, to work with aviation and other enablers and integrate them into their battle plan. Before this, it’s academic, now they’re actually seeing the application of that on the battlefield. This is a critical event in preparation for future operations.”
One of the goals of the CALFEX focused on the platoon’s ability to exercise its leadership skill, ensuring its platoon leaders and platoon sergeants possess a thorough understanding on what to do in combat situations and teach their soldiers how to do things so they may teach others as well.
The CALFEX also demonstrated the shoot-move-communicate principles in combat operations using the newest armored vehicles in its arsenal to effectively and efficiently operate as a lethal, modernized force and be deployment ready.
“Everything that is encountered on the battlefield is what we’re trying to simulate with the CALFEX,” said 1st. Sgt. Terry Spratt, the senior enlisted advisor of Charlie Troop, 6th Sqn., 8th. Cav. Regt., 2nd ABCT. “What’s important is the synchronization that it all takes. We’re doing it at the platoon level, but we’re also using outside assets [such as the] AH-64 Apaches, artillery, organic mortars. We even have our sister troop, Delta Tank, maneuver with us as well … conduct battle handovers and work on what that looks like as we exercise as hunter killer teams.”
During the CALFEX, troopers who were executing this level of training for the first time faced challenges communicating across multiple platforms.
“Communication is always a tough one,” said Spratt. “You’re learning to talk across multiple platforms with teams that have not really experienced that yet. We recently shot gunnery not too long ago, so now we’re taking that training that we’ve previously done and stepping it up to the next echelon. The challenge isn’t only synchronization, but the battle handovers and what that looks like at the small team level and how it’s executed. There’s a lot of tasks to accomplish, and it’s the synchronization that is the biggest key to this.”
Whether it's methods that work or don’t work, or methods needing to continually be improved upon and how to go about it differently, such matters are discussed in after action reviews between senior leadership and crews to find solutions for better results.