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NEWS | July 24, 2018

Training lanes at CSTX

By Spc. Gordon Penn Exercise News Day

Under the severe heat of a mid-July California sun, two Army Reserve noncommissioned officers simulate actual combat conditions in order to enhance the tactical skills of Soldiers participating in the ongoing Combat Support Training Exercise here.

Staff Sgts. Matthew Fuchs and Jacob Matherly of the Army Reserve’s 1st Battalion, 417th Infantry Regiment, bring years of experience to the CSTX, running a convoy operations training lane.

“Our unit’s job is training,” said Matherly. “We are providing instructional convoy operations lanes as well as the opposing enemy forces.”

The CSTX prepares the Army Reserve units to be combat-ready by immersing them in realistic scenarios where they train as they would fight. These exercises are developed to improve each units’ training readiness and to assess how they perform in a dynamic operational environment.

Readiness is the primary focus of the Army Reserve, and meeting the challenges of fielding a robust, capable, ready and lethal array of forces is no small task. Fuchs’ and Matherly’s job is to make sure these support units get the proper training and know how to defend themselves in the event they make contact with enemy forces. 

“We put the Soldiers from these units in a situation that no one would ever want to find themselves; the bad people are coming at you from both sides,” said Fuchs. “The enemy is shooting at you and there is gas [attack] so you have to make tough choices.”

Soldiers encounter a variety of obstacles while they are running a convoy through the lane, to include roadside bombs, near and far ambushes, and CS gas attacks. Each time the convoy makes contact the situation gets worse. The final stop is a near ambush and a CS gas attack that forces Soldiers to make quick decisions.

The goal is to make this exercise as intense and realistic as possible and test their training.

“These two NCOs are experts at this,” said 1st Lt. Richard Holtrop, the officer-in-charge of the lane. “This is their fifth straight year running convoy lane operations here, so they know exactly how to amp up the stress and push these Soldiers to the breaking point.”

“The work we do now will ultimately save lives when these Soldiers go down range and the enemy is actually shooting at them with real bullets,” Fuchs added.