Local Guardsmen of the 2-108th Cavalry Squadron recently completed a rotation at the Louisiana National Guard’s Exportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC), the largest training event this year.

During the three-week event at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, the Soldier’s train on and hone their basic warfighting skills, and build up meaningful relationships which are vital to the Squadron’s success. At first, the training events are focused on small unit tactics and sharpening the individual Soldier’s combat abilities. As the training progresses, the events become larger and more complex.

A Soldier with Charlie Troop, 2-108th Cavalry Squadron prepares for a live fire exercise at XCTC

The culminating event of XCTC is the three day Field Training Exercise (FTX). This year, the 2-108th is leading the rest of the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team on a mission through simulated enemy territory to secure a suspected chemical weapons facility. As the eyes and ears of the Brigade, the 2-108th will be at the tip of the spear, clearing the way for the rest of the 256th using a variety of weapons and tactics.

Gun trucks belonging to Alpha Troop, 2-108th Cavalry prepare for a live fire exercise at XCTC. The gun trucks aid the Soldiers in their reconnaissance mission.

While the Squadron’s three combat Troops are working to maximize lethality, the Soldiers of Headquarters and Delta Troops are practicing their support functions for real. With temperatures well above 100 degrees, the Squadron’s medical staff is working overtime to ensure that Soldier’s with heat-related injuries are getting treated as soon as possible. It’s not just the heat the Soldiers are combatting – Camp Shelby is home to several venomous spiders and snakes, as well as harmful plants such as Poison Ivy.

Staff Sergeant Sarah Davis (L) and Specialist Adrian Harper (R), two of the medics assigned to the forward aid station.

The support Troop, Delta, must keep the Squadron fueled and fed, and keep the all-important HMMWV gun trucks are in proper working order. These tasks are difficult under the best of circumstances, but the heat, inclement weather, remote locations, and rough terrain make Delta’s job one of the toughest in the Squadron.

Soldiers with Delta Troop repair a blown out tire in the middle of the night at XCTC.

Although XCTC offers the Soldier’s of the 2-108th an excellent opportunity to prepare for foreign deployments, the planning skills learned and practiced by the leadership of the Squadron during training will transfer to the Squadron’s civilian mission as well. As part of the Louisiana National Guard, the 2-108th is frequently called upon to conduct search and rescue missions when disaster strikes – and after XCTC the Squadron will be more prepared to plan and execute these tasks on short notice.

Officers of the 2-108th Cavalry Squadron conduct a “war game” exercise in preparation for the FTX.

When the 2-108th returns home to Shreveport, they will have little time to rest. As Hurricane season moves into it’s most active months and the unit’s regular training schedule resumes, these Soldiers must prepare to deploy at a moments notice. The Squadron will continue to train throughout the year, leading up to its rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk in 2019. JRTC will be an intense version of XCTC and will prepare the Squadron and the rest of the 256th Brigade to deploy overseas in 2020.