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Feature Stories

NEWS | Sept. 4, 2017

Santa Fe Division Blazes the Trail

By Staff Sgt. Jeremy Miller 35th Infantry Division

Soldiers assigned to the 35th Infantry Division conducted a two-week long training exercise called Operation Blaze the Trail, in order to sustain deployment readiness on August 22, 2017. The training event consisted of two phases. The first phase focused on individual soldier readiness training, while the second phase transitioned Soldiers to provide operational support to the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division during their command post exercise.

The mission focus for phase one was to maintain combat power and readiness through collective and individual Soldier task training. The field environment training allowed the 35th Inf. Div. to support theater operations as needed while honing individual Soldier skills to meet today’s complex combat environment.

“Soldiers need to push themselves to their limits while training,” said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Van, 35th Inf. Div. deputy commanding general. “Proper training and repetition builds second nature responses in the field – you don’t get a second chance when the enemy brings the fight and you’re unprepared.”

Soldier training consisted of individual weapons familiarization, land navigation, night vision goggle familiarization, communications training, drivers training, and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive training. All events were conducted in a round-robin fashion.

“Soldiers have a great opportunity to gain confidence in their individual task training,” said 1st Sgt. Lance Tipton, Headquarters Support Company first sergeant.

“As Soldiers gain speed on common task training, they are preparing themselves for the next level of responsibilities in their career,” Tipton said.

The first phase of Operation Blaze the Trail ended August 30th as Soldiers from the 35th began setting up to provide observer controller/trainer support to the 3-1 CAV during their command post exercise. Supporting the 3-1 CAV consisted of providing trainers from across the 35th division staff who guidance and mentorship in various warfighter functions.

Trainers from the 35th sent simulated battlefield scenarios to 3-1 CAV Soldiers over electronic communications systems to test their enemy acquisition capabilities. The desired outcome is for the warfighters to properly identify enemy targets and engage them on the battlefield with accuracy and speed.

“It’s critical for the 35th to support the 3-1 CAV commander’s training intent for the exercise,” said Col. Dirk Christian, 35th Inf. Div. senior observer controller/trainer officer in charge. “We want to ensure the 3-1’s leadership has a clear picture of their combat readiness. Their success is our mission,” said Christian.