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Sharpening skills at Marne Focus
Marne Focus 2024
Soldiers assigned to 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, advance to decontamination site after a simulated chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attack during Marne Focus 2024. Photo by Sgt. Duke Edwards

By PFC Elisha Hall and SPC. Destiny Husband, 3rd Infantry Division.

“From my battle position, I was able to destroy six enemy tanks and wound several others passing through the second defensive line before they were finally defeated,” said Spc Ethan Coop, a gunner assigned to 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. “It’s a feeling that cannot be replicated – knowing that you were better prepared and trained than your opponent is a great reward. All the hours and days spent planning and preparing finally paid off in a 10-minute engagement.”

This is just one such scenario Soldiers with the 1st ABCT underwent last week during Marne Focus 2024, a large-scale training exercise at Fort Stewart in preparation for their upcoming rotation to the National Training Center.

“The intent of Marne Focus is a validation exercise that we conduct to bring all of the battalions together to train at a collective level,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Ryan Roush, senior leader advisor of 1st ABCT. “It allows the brigade and battalion level to synchronize brigade warfighting functions to enable battalions to fight the tactical fight.”

Before Marne Focus, soldiers have conducted rigorous crew certification and essential collective training to certify their readiness for large-scale multi-domain operations. They have implemented hours of training within their respective platoons and companies to operate against other battalions.

“This is about as close we can get to the real-life thing of moving through the night and day, engaging against other soldiers who also are trained to fight,” said Coop, emphasizing why live training like this is essential. “Not just a gunnery range or a stimulator where everything is scripted. This is a lot more organic, natural, and difficult to counter and deal with.”

Both Marne Focus and NTC’s purpose is to simulate real- world combat scenarios, testing the division’s ability to fight and win in a complex battlefield environment. This week, a range of training opportunities culminating in maneuver operations, combined arms coordination and live-fire exercises have allowed thousands of soldiers to determine where to improve to maintain their competitive advantage.

“I’ve never been a part of a brigade training event that is this comprehensive and tested us in this many domains before a National Training Center rotation,” said Col. Jim Armstrong, commander of 1st ABCT, 3rd ID. “I learned this team is ready to fight and win. It is a team of warfighters and can absolutely take it to the enemy on the battlefield.”

Dogface soldiers must remain flexible and agile by leveraging modern technology and integrating all warfighting functions against today’s threats, improving their lethality. This includes the utilization of drones in these types of simulated warfare scenarios. To allow soldiers to train in an environment with the technologies that likely will be encountered on a live battlefield.

“Drones are essential in filling the critical collection gaps between brigade and battalion assets, empowering line companies to rapidly conduct engagement area development and enable scouts to reconnoiter more ground in a timely manner,” said Capt. Wyatt Weller, a soldier assigned to 2/7 Infantry Battalion, 1st ABCT. “Drones enhance warfighting by making contact with the enemy first, providing early warning composition.”

The exercise also integrates the Army’s most modern equipment: the Abrams M1A2SEPv3 and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, Armored Multipurpose Vehicle and the Paladin as part of the most modern division in the Army. These vehicles faced multiple challenges themselves to include terrain obstacles such as ‘dragon’s teeth’, anti-tank ditches and mines, c-wire strands and concrete barriers.

“Anytime you can place a leader in this scenario where they’re going to have to make decisions, that’s how we prepare ourselves and our leaders for combat,” Roush said. “So we were able to identify a lot of risks and a lot of decisions that had to be made just within the battlefield, rehearse those problems with logical solutions, and make decisions within Marne Focus.”

In the end, Marne Focus emphasizes how soldiers strive to maintain their warfighting skills and tactical proficiency in order to win in conflict. To further validate the Raider Brigade’s combat readiness, the 188th Infantry Brigade observed this extensive training.

“The raider brigade is a lethal force,” said Col. Will H. Shoemate, the 188th Infantry Brigade commander. “They can fight at the echelon level, and they will do very well at the National Training Center. We appreciate the opportunity to continue our support to 3rd ID. We’re fortunate to be stationed here at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Rock of the Marne.”

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