Cavalry Scouts from 4th Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment train alongside Moldova’s Recon Battalion during Exercise Hickory Sting at Fort Bliss Texas.
The mountainous desert terrain of Fort Bliss, Texas, set the scene of Operation Hickory Sting – a brigade-level exercise consisting of more than 4,000 National Guard Soldiers. The operation was an Exportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) exercise for the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT), which is made up of units from the North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia Army National Guards.
Soldiers from the Minnesota Army National Guard and North Carolina’s State partner country, Moldova, also participated in the XCTC as support to the 30th.
The Army National Guard’s XCTC program, coordinated and managed in conjunction with First Army and the National Guard Bureau, provides a combat-training-center-like experience, but at a home station or regional training center. The program is designed to certify platoon proficiency and brings full training resource packages to National Guard and active duty bases around the country. XCTC exercises challenge and prepare Soldiers across all military occupational specialties (MOSs) to be more lethal, effective and tactically proficient.
The 30th ABCT’s XCTC exercise gave Soldiers an opportunity to conduct combined arms maneuvers focused on company-level armor and infantry situational training exercises. Soldiers from West Virginia’s 1st Squadron, 150th Cavalry Regiment – a sub-unit of the 30th – conducted Table XII platoon gunnery, a combined arms live-fire exercise and participated in platoon and troop-level, reconnaissance-focused situational training exercises.
Taking place in August of 2018, Operation Hickory Sting served to prepare the entire 30th ABCT for a successful completion of an upcoming 2019 training rotation at the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California. Following their NTC rotation, the 30th ABCT will be validated for a potential deployment overseas.
“We have a lot of MOSs present,” said CPT Ronald Colvin, commander of Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 113th Field Artillery, when speaking about the Hickory Sting exercise. “Field artillery, logistics and supply elements, maintenance, fire control specialists, medics, the list goes on.