It’s my pleasure to inform you of the many day-to-day, mission, and organizational highlights the Rakkasans have made the first half of 2021.
As we maintain first class leadership throughout the division, Rakkasan leaders continue to educate Soldiers on the facts about the COVID vaccine, we have prioritized education about the virus and herd immunity through vaccination. Our fully vaccinated population greatly increases weekly as our Soldiers learn more about the positive effectiveness of the vaccine and the importance of protecting the force from the virus all while maintaining our rigorous training schedule.
Starting off our update the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment “Leader Rakkasans” who executed their platoon live-fire exercises (LFXs), and a Secure, Mobile, Anti-Jam, Reliable, and Tactical-Terminal (SMART-T) validation during the first quarter. The platoon LFX’s were executed while integrating combat engineers and battalion level indirect fires to integrate real life scenarios into the training. During the LFX, the battalion staff also leveraged the opportunity to establish the battalion Tactical Operations Center (TOC), validate the layout, and stress mission command platforms.
Leader also conducted a challenging and realistic training event structured on a European Area of Responsibility Defense Against the Enemy (AOR DATE) scenario. The event initiated with the staff’s execution of a 96-hour Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) effort; successfully integrated an Air Mission Coordination Meeting (AMCM), Air Mission Brief, and Cold Load Training as parallel planning events. This event allowed Leader to coordinate planning with other tenant units to on Fort Campbell, gaining valuable Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System (CUAS) training with the new Drone Defender and Drone Buster. Additionally, Leader took the time to congratulate Alexandra Cavanaugh for being recognized as a nominee for Volunteer of the Year after recording 399 volunteer hours over the past year.
The 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment “Iron Rakkasans” conducted Squad Live Fires II, an Iron Machine Gun Leaders Course, and a Platoon level Walk and Shoot as part of their training to maintain readiness. One Iron Soldier, Pfc. Colin Braun from Iron’s Scout Platoon distinguished himself early this quarter by graduating from Ranger School; an incredible performance by this young man. Iron also took the opportunity to invite Dave Reiley, who is a peer-to-peer counselor for veterans and active-duty service members, to their battalion footprint to introduce himself and outline the assistance he can provide for Soldiers and their families. Furthermore, Iron’s Headhunter Company conducted a community service event by packaging and handing out 225 boxes of an assortment of food which fed a total of 360 families in need of support in Montgomery County. This quarter also resulted in a total of 12 certified and lethal infantry companies in preparation for the unit’s future missions. The battalion hosted Command Sgt. Maj.(R) Rory Malloy as a guest speaker during the third installation of the unit’s Spiritual Fitness PT and Prayer breakfast. Malloy spoke about relying on training and a solid foundation in faith to sustain the unit throughout training and combat operations while also maintaining a servant leader attitude throughout.
2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment “White Currahee” executed a platoon situational training exercise, Emergency First Responder (EFR) training, rehearsed and validated battalion staff systems for a Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX) this quarter. The unit’s Soldier and Family Readiness Group (SFRG) took the time to host Easter events for families within their battalion. The unit gained valuable training with the Soldier Born Sensor, and was able to aid in leader decisions during both day and night execution during the CALFEX. In addition to this, Currahee was able to take 110 Rakkasans to Toccoa, Georgia, for a morale building event in which they toured the local museum and raced up Currahee Mountain (“Three miles up, three miles down!”).
1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment “War Rakkasans” also conducted frequent platoon Situational Training Exercise (STX), team and section LFXs, and closed out training week (TW) 28 with a motivating Spur Ride. 89 War Rakkasans distinguished themselves by earning their silver spurs during the TW 32 Spur Ride. War leaders also conducted Operation War Story, a staff ride focused on cavalry operations during the Battle of Chickamauga at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. It should be noted, along with that, an outstanding squad from Apache Troop, War Rakkasans, took first place in the 101st Division Gainey Cup, in the Best Scout Squad competition.
Subsequently, War Rakkasans began their Mortar Training and Evaluation Program in TW 36 along with individual and crew served weapons qualifications that included M4, M2, AT4, and M3 ranges to continue preparation for JRTC 21-10.
The 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment “Red Knights” conducted final preparations for their Field Artillery Table XV during this time and led a company Fire Coordination Exercise. The unit provided fire support and observation for the brigade combat team (BCT) fire coordination exercise (FCX) and also participated in Division Artillery (DIVARTY) Top Gun and DIVARTY Best of the Best competitions, earning top M777A2 howitzer section and best Artillery Battalion in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). Job well done Red Knights!
They also concluded their support of the CALFEX, firing over 1100 105mm and 155mm rounds over a three-week time frame, all accurately and within 1000 meters of Rakkasan troops on the final objective which enabled 12 maneuver companies to progress through their live-fire proficiency gates. Red Knights worked with the Brigade Fires to execute sensor to shooter validations with War Rakkasans, Army attack aviation, Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (TUAS), the Radio Aerial Detection and Ranging system (RADARs). The validation included providing an inject at the sensor and processing the mission to the howitzers for a live mission.
Task Force Assurgam, 626th Brigade Support Battalion, continued to perform their Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) mission as a Type II (Small) Vaccination Support Team (VST) in Orlando, Florida, focusing on the safe and efficient vaccination of Floridians. Those deployed continued to work with the Florida Department of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to increase the efficiency of the vaccination process in Orlando. To date the VST has vaccinated over 200,000 citizens of Florida.
While continuing their DSCA mission, Assurgam Rakkasans conducted a “depot-to-depot” transfer of ammunition from our Fort Campbell Ammunition Supply Point (ASP) to the Rakkasan ASP during TW 32, as Alpha Company, 626th Brigade Support Battalion training and certifications allow the 3rd Brigade Combat Team to be the only Infantry BCT in the Army that has the capability to act as its own ASP. Also, during TW 32, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 626 BSB and the Consolidated DFAC celebrated “May the 4th be with you” meal, a Cinco de Mayo meal, and a Mother’s Day meal, all meals receiving positive feedback form all who attended the events.
The battalion began TW 36 by recognizing Soldiers in the Task Force Assurgam VST with an award ceremony to emphasize the important role they played for the brigade as well as for the citizens of Florida they were able to vaccinate.
21st Brigade Engineer Battalion “Solid Rakkasans” training focused on Engineer Squad LFXs, support to Leader Rakkasan’s Platoon LFXs, and SMART-T validation. Solid provided sapper and light equipment support to Iron’s PLT LFX and defense focused FTX. Other Solid Rakkasan platoons conducted a Dig Exercise and supported the Directorate of Public Works roads and grounds by grading forestry roads and installing a culvert along Angels Road, they conducted valuable off-post training with the Hopkinsville Fire Department on the Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus to prepare Soldiers for operating in suspected contaminated, subterranean, and confined space environments.
The Division Public Affairs Office coordinated with Solid to enable Stars and Stripes reporters to integrate into Charlie Company’s retrans Sling Load operation in TW 34. The journalist team highlighted how this capability enables the Rakkasans to communicate in dynamic and fast-paced operational environments. Solid Rakkasans also finalized planning for the Best Air Assault Competition and moved to conducting individual BAAC lane rehearsals to full battalion rehearsals, culminating in a dress rehearsal attended by the division action officer.
Upon the return home of Task Force Assurgam, The Rakkasans took the time to relax and to build on the unit’s esprit de corps during the Brigade Dining Out at the new Oak Grove Racing and Gaming Hotel/Casino. Though we had to limit attendance and maximize social distancing during the event, it was great for unit camaraderie to be able to start conducting social events again since the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic.
HHC Brigade along with teams from all Rakkasan Battalions participated in RAK Talon IV at the Kinnard Mission Training Center. This exercise was an opportunity for the Brigade to test and gain experience with the Command Post Integrating Infrastructure (CPI2) that will be used in future training exercises.
Several Rakkasan leaders distinguished themselves at the 2021 Best Ranger Competition, where 1st Lt. Matthew Rush (3-187IN) and his teammate placed 14th, 1st Lt. Andrew Farrell (3-320FA) and 1st Lt. Reid Sealby (1-187IN) placed 8th. Finally, 1st Lt. Micheal Singer (1-187IN) and his teammate placed 5th. Outstanding display of effort by all Rakkasans who participated in this year’s competition.
All Rakkasan battalions participated in the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program (SHARP) 5k run/walk on April 23, 2021; this annual run had a great turnout this year showing the brigade’s dedication and support of the program.
Around the brigade, SFRGs showed their support for Soldiers and families by holding events such as a “Donut What We’d Do Without You” on May 6, 2021, in honor of National Military Spouse Day where spouses were given a personalized donut to show appreciation for all their efforts in supporting their Soldier and the unit; they participated in an off-post run event at the Clarksville Greenway during TW 31, and organized a BBQ immediately following a Spur Ceremony at the completion of the Spur Ride.
During TW 36 a brigade combatives tournament was held including representatives from all battalions; special recognition to the members of Headhunter Company of Iron Rakkasans, who placed first in the combatives tournament. Excellent display of toughness and determination by this team.
Several changes of command/responsibilities were held from company level up to the brigade Change of Command where Col. Brandon S. Teague transferred brigade command authority to the incoming RAK6, Col. Mark D. Federovich on June 18, 2021, all while the Rakkasans continue to prepare for JRTC 21-10.
Let Valor Not Fail, Rakkasan!