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Soldiers from Troop B, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment aboard a Bradley fighting vehicle roll into the fake town of Ubensdorf at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, on Thursday. They were warming up for Iron Storm, an excercise involving 1,000 1st Armored Division troops that began Saturday.

Soldiers from Troop B, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment aboard a Bradley fighting vehicle roll into the fake town of Ubensdorf at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, on Thursday. They were warming up for Iron Storm, an excercise involving 1,000 1st Armored Division troops that began Saturday. (Seth Robson / S&S)

Soldiers from Troop B, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment aboard a Bradley fighting vehicle roll into the fake town of Ubensdorf at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, on Thursday. They were warming up for Iron Storm, an excercise involving 1,000 1st Armored Division troops that began Saturday.

Soldiers from Troop B, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment aboard a Bradley fighting vehicle roll into the fake town of Ubensdorf at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, on Thursday. They were warming up for Iron Storm, an excercise involving 1,000 1st Armored Division troops that began Saturday. (Seth Robson / S&S)

Soldiers from Troop B, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment storm a building Thursday at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, in preparation for Iron Storm.

Soldiers from Troop B, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment storm a building Thursday at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, in preparation for Iron Storm. (Seth Robson / S&S)

HOHENFELS, Germany — Iron Storm, an exercise involving 1,000 1st Armored Division soldiers that kicked off Saturday, marks a return to conventional training after a year in which the Joint Multinational Readiness Center focused on counter-insurgency tactics.

Capt. Matt Baugh of the 1st AD’s operations section said the 10-day exercise involved “full spectrum” operations by members of the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment against enemies armed with tanks, armored personnel carriers, fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and artillery as well as small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices.

For the past year, most of the units that have trained at Hohenfels have been preparing to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan. However, the 1-1 Cav is not scheduled to deploy, officials said.

“In the past our brigades have done rotations that focused on global war on terror tasks, such as counter-insurgency operations,” said Baugh, 28, of Annapolis, Md.

“To maintain our flexibility to fight any kind of fight in the world, this rotation is focused on high-intensity conflict. This training is focused more toward a conventional war.”

The 1-1 Cav, which deployed to Iraq from April 2003 to July 2004, is the largest combat arm of the 1st AD left in Germany. Two 1st AD brigades are in Iraq and Kuwait while another is based in the U.S., Baugh said.

Other units participating in Iron Storm include the 123rd Main Support Battalion, 501st Military Intelligence Battalion, the 502nd Engineer Company, the 141st Signal Battalion as well as elements of the division’s 4th Brigade (aviation) including the 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment and the 45th Medical Company, he said.

The exercise is the first time the division has done a rotation using Shadow Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Twelve UAVs will be beaming images from the battlefield directly to commanders at a tactical operations center, Baugh said.

The exercise scenario involves efforts by the U.S. to re-establish a transitional boundary between two mythical countries after an invasion of one country by the other, he said.

On Thursday, soldiers from the 1-1 Cav’s Troop B warmed up for the exercise by cordoning off Ubensdorf, a fake town inside the training area at Hohenfels, then raiding a building to distract the enemy while another unit captured a “high-value target” who had been spreading anti-U.S. sentiment among the population.

For about a half-hour, smoke billowed out of windows and blanks rattled as the Troop B soldiers and the “opposition force” enemy fought around the town.

Troop B soldier 2nd Lt. Scott Perl, 23, of Washington, D.C., said it was the first time he’d trained at the JMRC.

“We are getting to do some high-intensity conflict. There is going to be tanks on tanks,” he said. “But B Troop will be doing counter-insurgency operations.”

A member of the “opposition forces,” 1st Lt. Steven Dukes, 24, of Central City, Ky., and the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, was armed with an RPG during the battle.

Dukes said he preferred playing an insurgent to fighting mock conventional battles.

“We get more free play opportunities as insurgents. The conventional fights are pretty well scripted: The enemy is here. You will go this route and attack them with this.

“As an insurgent, we have more weapons and tactics we can use. They give us a set amount of weapons per day and say this is what we want you to hit, but we always have targets of opportunity,” he said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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