MOHAMED NAGUIB MILITARY BASE, Egypt –
Careening across the Egyptian desert at nearly 40 mph, inside a 70,000-pound armored vehicle, for hours on end can be an incredibly disorienting experience for the uninitiated. Exhaust fumes and dust pour into the dark cabin; your ears are assaulted by the clatter of the tracks beneath you as they churn up rocks. The constant, overwhelming vibration and jarring movements slam you into the Soldiers packed in around you quickly inducing the flashes of motion sickness.
For U.S Army Staff Sgt. Bryan Fox, an infantry squad leader, assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team, Task Force Spartan, and his squad this is just another day at the office. Their years of individual and collective training has hardened them to the rigors of the job.
When the ramp drops and Fox leads his men out into the Egyptian desert; their movements are sharp, decisive, disciplined, and expertly led. They cover ground quickly as they bound toward a machine gun bunker.
Fox and his team are one part of a company-level combined-arms live-fire exercise (CALFEX) that integrates field artillery and mechanized mortar teams, engineers, infantry, and close air support, said Capt. John Rowland, the commander of Alpha Company.
The 155th ABCT is in Egypt participating in Exercise Bright Star 18, a multilateral U.S. Central Command training exercise. Throughout the exercise, they will be refining their craft further by integrating with and sharing best practices with the Egyptian armed forces and other partner nations.
“We've been training for roughly seven months to come out here and do what we did today,” said Rowland. “It is important to me because this is my validation that my company can effectively shoot, move, and communicate.”
“It's all about lethality and audacity in an infantry company, and I think we got it,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Arispe, an infantryman track commander, assigned to Alpha Company. “Alpha Company is where it's at.”
During Bright Star 18 the Soldiers of the 155th ABCT and other CENTCOM personnel will conduct training with their Egyptian, Jordanian, and other partner nation counterparts to promote and enhance regional security and cooperation.
“It's important to create allies, bonds, and ties with everybody,” said Arispe. “We do this for a reason so that we can be prepared for anything.”
Exercises like these improve common processes and develop combined leadership understanding, which creates habits that can pay off in times of crisis.
“When it comes to integration with forces from different countries, everyone has different doctrine, and everyone has different ways of doing things,” said Rowland. “Learning from each other is going to make our partnership stronger.”