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NEWS | March 4, 2023

Georgia ARNG infantry battalion combines arms to certify six platoons

By Maj. Charles Emmons

As the weather in Fort Stewart Georgia begins to warm up and lean toward Spring temperatures, the Soldiers of the Ga. Army National Guard’s Winder-based 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment are taking full advantage of the forested training areas to validate their infantry platoons by conducting combined arms live fire training over an extended drill weekend this first week of March, 2023.

Six infantry platoons will be validated by the live-fire exercises. But this represents just a fraction of the battalion’s total training package in which the battalion is exercising all of the Army’s warfighting functions during this drill.

“This is really a culminating event that is going to test our battalion’s combat power,” said Captain Jared Crandall, commander of 1-121 Infantry’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company and full-time assistant operations officer for the battalion.

Crandall was a lead planner of this training exercise, which began taking shape the previous year with several organizational planning meetings, coordination of assets, and a recent battalion staff visit with the Leader Training Program at Fort Polk, Louisiana to refine the battalion training plan and develop relevant standard operating procedures and operations order products.

“Our goal for this exercise is to test those SOPs and fighting products we came up with,” said Crandall.

The battalion is delivering a combined-arms live-fire experience to the Soldiers, integrating indirect mortar fires into nearby impact areas and attaching combat engineers from the Statesboro-based 177th Brigade Engineer Battalion to each platoon.

Specialist Marshall Reese from Alpha Company, 177th BEB, carried a long, narrow tube over his shoulder as he accompanied 1-121 Infantry Soldiers through the tall grass to the objective area. His contribution to the event was the ordnance contained in the cylinder, a Bangalore torpedo used to loudly clear obstacles during breaching operations with a large explosion.

“It’s a good experience,” said Reese. “It’s a lot of good training, definitely get to see the other side of what the infantry does.”

In addition to the kinetic infantry live-fire lanes, Soldiers of the battalion are flexing their support capabilities as well. Additional training includes combat medic and casualty evacuations, intelligence planning with realistic tactical company orders, supply trains, electronic warfare assets, and Raven unmanned aircraft systems testing the heat signatures of command posts on the ground, verifying that they are properly concealed from enemy observation.

The battalion also coordinated with observers and training teams from Fort Stewart’s 188th Infantry Brigade and Valiant Integrated Services to serve as coaches and observers.

All of this training will ultimately lead to the organization’s scheduled rotation to the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk later this Spring. The battalion will be augmented with Soldiers from 2-121 Infantry out of Forsyth, Georgia to provide them a full-powered combat battalion, that will fall under the 44th Infantry Brigade Combat team, a formation from the New Jersey National Guard.

“Seeing it all come together has been pretty incredible the past couple of days, knowing how much we’ve grown and solidified in preparation for JRTC,” said First Sergeant Michael Deeds, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the live fire training exercise.

The battalion has made the most of its scheduled drills leading up to JRTC by conducting smaller unit drills and training at local ranges. Crandall feels that this training has given Soldiers exactly what they signed up to do.

“I would argue there’s not a brigade or battalion that is getting the quality training that we’ve planned out here, even comparable to active duty,” said Crandall.

Specialist Josiah Newport recently joined the battalion from an active-duty unit, and this is his first drill with the Georgia National Guard.

“It carries the same level of intensity,” said Newport, as he prepared to assault the objective. “Everybody is ready.”

Deeds gave a glowing review of the Soldiers’ performance over the course of the exercise and feels confident about their readiness for JRTC.

“I’m excited about the growth and development that our Soldiers are gonna go through. I’ve been in the organization for a long time, and these are some of the best Soldiers I’ve worked with,” said Deeds. “They are incredibly adaptive, fit, and disciplined and they are ready to represent Georgia in the best capacity possible.”