Fort Carson Soldiers Practice Air Assault Skills during Exercise

An entrance at Fort Carson, Colorado. (Defense Department photo)
An entrance at Fort Carson, Colorado. (Defense Department photo)

For about 50 soldiers, Monday afternoon was an exercise in pure frustration.

Obscenities, profanities and vulgarities could sometimes be heard above the sound of rifles and machine guns. Eight days into a training exercise for Fort Carson's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, intense sergeants barked at their charges to stay on task as lieutenants, most of them new on the job, learned leadership on the fly.

"The hardest part of it is communication," explained Sgt. 1st Class Terris Kolmorgan after he told his infantry soldiers to rush their targets, "like piglets on a sow."

There's not much time for talking though, as the 2nd Brigade readies for mock warfare in California after a summer of changes. Their training at Fort Carson wraps up Thursday.

Over the summer, 2nd Brigade sent soldiers to California, Oklahoma and Kentucky on missions to train other troops and ROTC cadets.

Lt. Col. Michael Avery, who command's the brigade's 1st Battalion of the 12th Infantry Regiment said that has made it tough to get units up to speed.

"We have been on a very decentralized training path," he said.

In November, the brigade is scheduled for Fort Irwin's National Training Center where they will undergo the Army's toughest training test in an environment designed to challenge brigades equipped with tanks. The 2nd Brigade has no heavy armored rigs and does its fighting with ground-pounding infantry men.

Leaders say that's why training at Fort Carson this week is so tough and draws so much cursing from troops.

"We've practiced before, but not on this scale," said 2nd Lt, Daniel Brankin.

The whole brigade, more than 4,000 soldiers, is focused on training. Scenarios put troops through large scale firefights reminiscent of Cold War planning. They're also learning skills the Army perfected in Iraq and Afghanistan, including Monday's training mission that sent Brankin's platoon to seize a mock insurgent leader.

The 50 soldiers flew in by helicopter and they hiked nearly three miles through tall grass and cactus to wind their way toward a mock village. In the village, troops from another 2nd Brigade unit were waiting, rifles at the ready.

It was a baptism by fire for Brankin's platoon.

Insurgent fire -- actually blank rounds that fire a device like a laser tag game -- came at Brankin's platoon from several directions.

Buzzers that signal casualties wailed over the gunfire.

Brankin and his troops were forced to change plans to counter the enemy.

"We got flowing after a while," the lieutenant said.

The curses got troops moving and motivated. They closed in and won the day.

"They did well," said Capt. J.B. Brown who observed the training so he could offer a critique to leaders. "You could tell the soldiers were motivated."

Avery said the soldiers will be ready for the training in California and the real-world fighting that could follow.

"We have to be," Avery said. "The Army asks a lot of its soldiers."

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