FORT HOOD, Texas / FORT IRWIN, Calif. (FOX 44) – On day one of Fort Hood soldiers training at the California National Training Center, FOX 44 learned about the timeline soldiers live through while there.
Once soldiers arrive at Fort Irwin, they are thrown into a type of training they have yet to experience. They prepare for these exercises while at Fort Hood – but being in “The Box” is a different environment, and everyone has a different job.
“NTC is definitely an experience for a lot of soldiers to learn like their jobs out in the field. And they get to learn at a different rate than being back in Garrison. It has been different with the weather. It’s been really cold, hot, but it’s definitely a learning experience,” says Dylan Nelson, Specialist, 1st Cav Headquarters Command Team Maintenance.
Specialist Nelson is a part of the White Cell, which helps with maintenance and supports those who stay in The Box for the full two weeks.
While in The Box, units use tactical skills and previous training to simulate an actual combat situation. Visiting units battle against Black Horse, a unit made up by soldiers stationed at Fort Irwin.
“When they actually do deploy out into their tactical assembly areas before the initial attack, they are opposed by what is a near peer adversary. Not just a near peer adversary, but their civilians on the battlefield. Criminal activity, terrorist activity. So really, the soldiers are dealing with a lot of friction, even preparing for the first day of battle. Which you’re referring to as ‘In The Box, Day One,'” says Colonel Steve Carpenter, Deputy Commander of Support for 1st Cav Division.
As units continue their time in The Box, they are faced with different challenges like retaking a city from the Black Horse units and holding the ground they have already moved over.
They are continually moving through the large area that is The Box itself, and it is an incredibly difficult training process.
“It’s a long time. The soldiers are going to be out here for 14 days, and it is unforgiving. Without showers, without the family, and it’s the first opportunity. When you’re at Fort Hood, it’s almost as if you can reach – you can touch. Here, It’s not like that,” says LTC James Ray, Deputy Division Chief of Staff 1st Cav Division.
Most units move through with precision and come back to Fort Hood ready to deploy.
Tune into FOX 44 News at 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. for the latest on Fort Irwin.